NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- The National Stock Exchange's monthly ETF fund flow data helped provide insights into investor preferences during the final volatile weeks of summer.
Overall, the market's downward action during August weighed on the industry, pushing total assets below the $1.10 trillion level. In total, assets saw a more than $43 billion decline from July.
Interestingly, despite this notable hit to total assets, investors continued to show interest in ETFs. In August, the combined ETF and ETN industry saw more than $2 billion flow into its universe. This is a considerable decrease from July, when the industry witnessed net inflows totaling $13 billion
Fund sponsors that saw the most substantial inflows included SSgA (SST), Direxion, and Vanguard. Each company welcomed over $1 billion in assets. SSgA, the leader, saw over $4 billion enter.On the opposite side of the spectrum, BlackRock (BLK), PowerShares, and First Trust led outflows, seeing between $1 billion and nearly $5 billion each head for the exits. From an individual product perspective, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) reigned as the biggest inflow recipient, gathering over $3.5 billion in assets. The SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) sat at the other end of the list. Although for a short while, the fund managed to surpass SPY to become the largest ETF in the universe, net outflows totaling $1.5 billion helped ensure that the fund would remain seated in its second place spot for a while longer. In August, defense was in vogue as indicated by investor interest in bond funds and defensive sector ETFs. SPY, the SPDR Barclays Capital 1-3 Month T-Bill ETF (BIL), Utilities Select Sector SPDR (XLU), Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR (XLP) and iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend Index Fund (DVY) saw some of the ETF industry's heaviest inflows. Despite this appetite for protection, not all safe haven ETFs fared so well. The iShares Barclays TIPS Fund (TIP) and iShares Barclays 20+ Year Treasury Bond Fund (TLT) saw notable outflows totaling approximately $800 million and $400 million respectively. Investors also steered clear of the Swiss franc. Although this safe haven currency has been a darling amongst investors fearful of the EU debt crisis, over $200 million flowed out of the CurrencyShares Swiss Franc Trust (FXF) for the month. A handful of additional outflow leaders included the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM), Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) and PowerShares QQQ (QQQ).