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Despite a dismal month for most equity benchmarks, ETF assets climbed past the $1.1 trillion level in July thanks to another strong round of inflows into exchange-traded products. More than $13 billion flowed into ETPs last month, led by strong demand for U.S. equities and commodities. Domestic equity funds accounted for about $4.4 billion of inflows, while commodities took in another $3.5 billion. International stocks ($2.3 billion) and fixed income ($2.6 billion) also saw big inflows, according to the latest data from the National Stock Exchange.

Total U.S. ETP assets stood at more than $1.1 trillion for the first time at the end of July, representing growth of about 0.8% over the previous month. Among individual issuers, State Street had the best month with more than $5.8 billion in cash inflows. Much of that total was attributable to SPY, which hauled in $3.3 billion and finished the month with about $66 billion. Vanguard took in about $1.3 billion in net new creations last month, and remains well ahead in terms of year-to-date inflows at about $22 billion. iShares took in about $1.9 billion last month and PowerShares saw net inflows of about $2.1 billion, meaning that the industry’s “big four” accounted for more than $11 billion of last month’s inflows.

On a relative scale, several mid-tier issuers saw strong inflows. Rydex took in nearly $600 million in new assets last month, representing more than 6% of June assets. First Trust continued a successful 2011 with another $340 million in inflows (4.4% of June assets), and PIMCO’s haul of about $130 million put the bond fund giant above the $1 billion mark for year-to-date inflows. PIMCO has generated a buzz in recent months with filings paving the way for an ETF version of its total return bond fund. Last month, the California company indicated that TRXT will charge 0.55% annually.

Gold ETFs in Demand

July Winners / Losers
ETF Inflows ETF Outflows
SPY $3,275 IWM $1,754
GLD $2,851 IJH $632
QQQ $1,581 XLE $521
EWJ $784 XLI $398
IAU $632 XLY $325
Source: NSX.com. $ in millions

Among individual ETFs, physically-backed precious metals ETFs saw a surge in activity last month. Net inflows into the four physically-backed gold ETFs (GLD, IAU, AGOL, SGOL) topped $3.5 billion. Both GLD and IAU were among the top five ETFs by monthly inflows. Physically-backed silver ETFs SLV and SIVR also saw significant activity last month.

Besides the gold ETFs and SPY, the biggest cash inflows were QQQ and the iShares MSCI Japan Index Fund (NYSEARCA:EWJ), which took in more than $780 million last month. Japan ETFs have seen increased interest from U.S. investors in recent months. EWJ has now taken in more than $3.4 billion this year, and the year-to-date total for the Japan Equities ETFdb Category is approaching $4.3 billion.

A couple of the new additions to the ETF lineup in July got off to hot starts. The First Trust Cloud Computing Index Fund (NASDAQ:SKYY) finished its first month with about $50 million in assets. And the Precidian MAXIS Nikkei 225 ETF (NYSEARCA:NKY) closed out July with about $114 million in total assets. NKY is the first U.S.-listed ETF to track the widely followed Japanese benchmark, the Nikkei 225 Index.

Disclosure: No positions at time of writing.

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Source: July ETF Stats: $13 Billion of Inflows for Month