Market Extra: The biggest third-quarter winners were technology and… Austria

The third quarter was a transitory one for the U.S. stock market, as investors grappled with the fallout of second-quarter events—include the shock of “Brexit” in June—and looked ahead to the fourth quarter, when a number of game-changing events—including the U.S. presidential election and a likely interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve—will occur.

The S&P 500 SPX, +0.80% rose 3.3% over the course of the quarter, the kind of slow grind higher that is indicative of a market where strong buying catalysts may have been few, but where low rates and concerns over low bond yields made equities look comparably attractive. Still, the modest move over the quarter obscures the action that occurred during it. At one point the benchmark index fell as much as 1.2%. At its peak, it rose 4.5%.

More pronounced moves were seen in other regions and asset classes. Here is how a number of notable equity exchange-traded funds performed over the quarter. In all cases, the flow data comes from ETF.com.

ETF Price move over the quarter Inflows over the quarter ($)
SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust SPY, +0.75%   3.3% 13.33 billion
SPDR Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF Trust DIA, +0.86%   2.1% 2.79 billion
Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF VWO, +0.72%   6.8% 80.2 million

Drilling down into the performance of U.S. equities, here are how the various S&P 500 sectors performed over the third quarter, ranked from top-performer to worst. Note that an 11th S&P sector, real estate, was launched in September, which contributed to the outsize inflows into the ETF.

ETF Price move over the quarter Inflows over the quarter ($)
Technology Select Sector SPDR ETF XLK, +0.53%   10.2% -537.1 million
Industrial Select Sector SPDR ETF XLI, +0.90%   4.2% 427.2 million
Financial Select Sector SPDR ETF XLF, +1.37%   4% -1.46 billion
Energy Select Sector SPDR ETF XLE, +1.36%   3.5% 255.5 million
Materials Select Sector SPDR ETF XLB, +0.74%   3% 299.4 million
Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR ETF XLY, +0.81%   2.5% -367.8 million
Health Care Select Sector SPDR ETF XLV, +1.02%   0.6% 255.1 million
Real Estate Select Sector SPDR ETF XLRE, -0.46%   -2.4% $3.34 billion
Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF XLP, +1.01%   -3.5% -753.9 million
Utilities Select Sector SPDR ETF XLU, -0.69%   -6.6% -745 million

Among iShares’ single-country funds, a popular way for investors to get exposure into specific regions, these were the top five gainers over the quarter.

ETF Price move over the quarter Inflows over the quarter
iShares MSCI Austria Capped ETF EWO, +1.05%   15.2% 0.45 million
iShares MSCI China ETF MCHI, +0.19%   14.4% 4.65 million
iShares MSCI Hong Kong ETF EWH, +0.36%   12.4% 322 million
iShares MSCI Taiwan ETF EWT, +0.45%   11.7% 151.8 million
iShares MSCI South Korea Capped ETF EWY, +0.55%   11.6% -37.32 million

These single-country funds saw the biggest decline:

ETF Price move over the quarter Inflows over the quarter
iShares MSCI Philippines ETF EPHE, +0.51%   -4.9% -87.5 million
iShares MSCI Turkey ETF TUR, +0.26%   -4.5% 14.4 million
iShares MSCI Mexico Capped ETF EWW, -0.35%   -3.8% 26.2 million
iShares MSCI Malaysia ETF EWM, +0.00%   -2.2% 15 million
iShares MSCI Singapore ETF EWS, +0.74%   -0.7% 25.9 million

While the iShares MSCI Japan ETF EWJ, -0.16%  was not one of the top five gainers despite a 9% rise, it saw notable outflows over the quarter, with $1.67 billion pulled from the fund. Much of the volatility in the country was driven by dramatic actions taken by the Bank of Japan, including a commitment to keeping the yield on Japanese 10-year bonds at zero in a bid to steepen the yield curve.

Here is how some notable commodity and precious metal funds performed:

ETF Price move over the quarter Inflows over the quarter
SPDR Gold Trust GLD, -0.34%   -0.7 -5.32 million
iShares Silver Trust SLV, +0.50%   1.9% 617.6 million
United States Oil Fund LP USO, +0.55%   -5.5% 145.3 million
United States Natural Gas Fund UNG, -1.76%   -3.2% -9.51 million

While several bond exchange-traded funds ended almost flat for the quarter, there was a lot of action in their flows as investors recalibrated their expectations for the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policies. Here are how notable ETFs in the fixed-income space performed:

ETF Price move over the quarter Inflows over the quarter
iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF AGG, -0.11%   -0.2% 2.97 billion
Vanguard Total Bond Market Index Fund BND, -0.13%   -0.2% 790.6 million
iShares iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate Bond ETF LQD, -0.18%   0.4% 3.62 billion
iShares 1-3 Year Treasury Bond ETF SHY, -0.08%   -0.3% 588 million
iShares 3-7 Year Treasury Bond ETF IEI, -0.13%   -0.6% 367.2 million
iShares 7-10 Year Treasury Bond ETF IEF, -0.25%   -1% -580.9 million
iShares 10-20 Year Treasury Bond ETF TLH, -0.42%   -1.2% -334.4 million
iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF TLT, -0.89%   -1% -1.43 billion
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