Credit Suisse Provide Q4 Market Commentary on European ETFs

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European ETFs ended a challenging 2011 with total assets of USD 259.88 bn and net new assets of USD 18.23 bn. Positive inflows in the first seven months of the year began to reverse in August. A divide opened up between physically replicated funds, with continued positive inflows, and synthetically replicated ETFs which - coming under intense regulatory scrutiny - experienced large outflows. Relatively speaking, the European ETF market weathered the storm much better than the larger UCITS industry.

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Despite the negative flows in Q4, the European ETF market remains attractive to investors

Credit Suisse ETFs Sales Strategist Ursula Marchioni reviews the ETF industry trends in her quarterly market commentary. Key findings of the quarter are:

Political uncertainty in Europe

Political uncertainty and the lack of a comprehensive solution to the euro sovereign debt crisis continued to impact European ETFs in Q4. After a flat October, outflows accelerated in November and December. In contrast, the US ETF market - facing similar underlying macroeconomic issues to Europe - did not experience the same crisis of confidence. Most likely due to its more mature and less fragmented status, the US ETF market, recorded a very different year to Europe, with inflows of USD 115.76 bn and only one negative month (May). The US ETF result reinforces our opinion that ETF growth will continue globally, and will gain strength in Europe when the underlying market uncertainty and regulatory scrutiny experienced here subsides.

Regulatory scrutiny intensifies

The increased regulatory scrutiny of synthetic ETFs highlighted in our Q3 market commentary continued to contribute to the outflows from these funds seen in last quarter. Since the publication of a European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) discussion paper in July addressing the risks of synthetic funds, a big divide has opened, with positive results for physically replicated funds and outflows mostly concentrated in synthetically replicated funds. Investors appear to prefer cash-based ETFs, placing USD 21.50 bn into physically replicated ETFs, in contrast to redemptions of USD 3.27 bn from synthetically replicated ones.

ETFs remain relatively attractive

Despite the negative flows in Q4, the European ETF market remains attractive to investors − illustrated by the USD 18.23 bn total inflows for the year − and particularly when compared to the much larger European UCITS fund industry. In contrast to the inflows recorded in European ETFs in 2011, by the end of November UCITS funds had recorded an outflow of EUR 84.5 bn. The disparity between the performance of the two investment vehicles is even more marked due to the fact that nearly 90% of European ETFs' AUM is constituted in UCITS funds .

Credit Suisse expects 2012 to be a positive year for the European ETF industry
Some headwinds remain with respect to the health of the global economy and while a solution to the Eurozone crisis remains elusive, macro tools such as ETFs should continue to hold their position as a wrapper of choice for a variety of risk/return profiles. On January 30th, the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) clarified its position on ETFs, and this should allay some of the investor concern over regulatory risks that was prevalent in the market in 2011. Ultimately, we expect to see a return to the fundamentals of indexing, with both the industry and regulators taking further action in clarifying the risks of different types of exchange traded instruments.

For a detailed account, please download the full Year End 2011 Market Commentary on European ETFs.

About CS ETFs
Credit Suisse AG is among the most successful providers of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). In Switzerland, the bank has been the market leader for many years and it is the second-largest provider of physically replicated ETFs in all of Europe. The Credit Suisse ETF portfolio consists of 58 funds, which are listed on the five largest European stock exchanges and cover the most important equity and bond indices of the world's main stock exchanges and national economies. Thematic and regional funds for commodities, emerging markets, and alternative energies round out the product offering. The Credit Suisse ETF website has information on choosing the best ETF.

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