11.03.2014

Stoxx Makes U.S. ETF Inroads

11.03.2014
Terry Flanagan

Issuers of exchange-traded funds in the US have licenced two indices from Stoxx, the European index provider and marketing agent for the indices of Deutsche Börse and Switzerland’s Six, for the first time.

Last month Alps, the US asset management and servicing company, launched the Stoxx Europe 600 ETF, the first ETF in the US which tracks the benchmark for developed Europe stocks. Another US fund manager, Recon Capital Partners, launched an ETF based on Deutsche Börse’s Dax index of 30 blue-chip shares, which represents around 80% of the market capitalization in Germany.

Rod Jones, North American head of business at Stoxx, told Markets Media: “US and Canadian investors have warmed up to Europe as the region has strengthened and we have had a lot of success in the past year and a half.”

Stoxx set up a US office four years ago in aftermath of financial crisis, focussed on providing expertise in European investment to US investors.

Jones said Recon Capital wanted to use the DAX in the US as it is one of the largest branded indices globally. The Dax is currently the basis for more than 135,000 financial products.

The Recon Capital Dax Germany ETF, the fund manager’s third ETF, began trading on Nasdaq on 23 October and so is fully tradable during US market hours in US dollars.

Garrett Paolella, chief executive of Recon Capital, said in a statement: “Germany is the locomotive of Europe and, with the Recon Capital Dax Germany ETF, we are giving US investors access to the German equity market which proved to be comparably robust in displaying higher returns and lower volatility levels than most of its European counterparts.”

Alps listed its ETF which tracks the Stoxx Europe 600 Index on NYSE Arca on October 31. There 10 exchange-traded products are available on the index globally but this is the first in the US.

Jones said: “Alps is using the Stoxx Europe 600 to provide broader European exposure. The index has a long history, is quoted by media outlets such as CNBC every morning, and so it is familiar to investors and is the marquee product for Europe.”

Tom Carter, president of Alps Advisors, said in a statement: “Simply put, the Stoxx Europe 600 Index provides the broadest exposure to a broad range of European equities.”

Despite concerns about the macroeconomic environment in the Eurozone and the lack of growth in the region last week the Stoxx Europe 600 had its largest weekly gain of this year, 2.9%, after the Bank of Japan announced a surprise stimulus package.

Stoxx has also licensed non-European products in the US. In October last year FlexShares ETFs, sponsored and managed by Northern Trust, launched the FlexShares Stoxx Global Broad Infrastructure Fund on NYSE Arca.

“Outside our Europe products, the Stoxx Global Broad Infrastructure Index which is used by FlexShares as basis for an ETF, has been very successful as it gives a broader exposure to the sector, and is not dominated by utilities like other infrastructure indices,” said Jones.

He added that Stoxx is having conversations in the US about licensing fixed income and smart beta indices. Smart beta products do not track an index just by market capitalisation but by other factors such as volatility or dividends.

“We have a full suite of high quality smart beta indices, including quality strategies and minimum variance indices which use Axioma’s models,” Jones added. “We have done a very good job in implementing these investment strategies in an index format, and they continue to be an areas of focus.”

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