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  Passive Investment Vehicles Have Posted The Strongest Asset Growth Since The End Of 2007
Posted Under: Conceptual Investing

 
View from the Observation Deck  

  1. This marks the seventh calendar year in which we have tracked the asset growth of the four major types of packaged products since the close of 2007 (prior to financial crisis in 2008-2009).
  2. The percentage change in the total assets invested in packaged products from 12/31/07 to 12/31/17 were as follows (chart): Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) (+459%); UITs (+60%); Mutual Funds (+56%); and Closed-End Funds (-12%).
  3. From 2016 to 2017, total assets in each of the four major types featured in the chart fluctuated as follows: ETFs ($2.5 trillion vs. $3.4 trillion); UITs ($85 billion vs. $85 billion); Mutual Funds ($16.3 trillion vs. $18.7 trillion); and Closed-End Funds ($262 billion vs. $275 billion).
  4. Last year, investors favored passive investing over active management. Data from Morningstar shows that estimated net flows to all "Active" long term mutual funds and ETFs totaled -$7 billion in 2017, while estimated net flows to all "Passive" funds and ETFs totaled $691.6 billion.
  5. We have noted in previous blog posts that some industry pundits have predicted that ETFs, in time, will supplant mutual funds as the most popular packaged product. We intend to continue monitoring. 

This chart is for illustrative purposes only and not indicative of any actual investment. 

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Posted on Thursday, March 8, 2018 @ 2:20 PM • Post Link Share: 
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  Interest Rates Policy and the Markets
Posted Under: Weekly Market Commentary Video
Bob Carey, Chief Market Strategist at First Trust Advisors L.P., discusses the latest developments in the market and takes a look ahead.
 
Posted on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 @ 2:52 PM • Post Link Share: 
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  U.S. Crude Oil & Natural Gas Rig Counts
Posted Under: Sectors

 

 
View from the Observation Deck  
  1. Since the beginning of 2014, the peak (6/20/14) in the price of crude oil was $107.26 per barrel, while the peak (2/19/14) in the price of natural gas was $6.15 per million British thermal units (BTUs), according to Bloomberg.
  2. As of 3/2/18, the price of a barrel of crude oil stood at $61.25 per barrel, down 42.90% from its peak in 2014, while the price of natural gas stood at $2.70 per million BTUs, down 56.10% from its peak in 2014.
  3. With respect to the period depicted in the charts, the 800 active crude oil rigs registered on 3/2/18 was more than 2.5 times higher than the period low of 316, posted on 5/27/16. The 181 active natural gas rigs registered on 3/2/18 was more than 2.2 times higher than the period low of 81, which was posted on 8/5/16.
  4. Active rig counts are just one barometer investors can use to assess both the crude oil and natural gas markets. U.S. investors should keep in mind that the crude oil market is more global in scope (greater foreign competition), while the natural gas market tends to be more domestic in nature for the U.S., though the U.S. is beginning to export natural gas as well. Robust production has tended to keep natural gas prices fairly range bound over the past couple of years, in our opinion.
  5. While the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) continues to curb crude oil production, U.S. producers, particularly in the shale regions, have been increasing production.
  6. The International Energy Agency (IEA) believes that strong economic growth worldwide will continue to support strong crude oil consumption until at least 2023, according to CNBC. The IEA is forecasting that the U.S. will be in a position to export 5 million barrels a day by 2023. In December 2017, the U.S. exported an average of 1.5 million barrels per day, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 
The charts and performance data referenced are for illustrative purposes only and not indicative of any actual investment. There is no guarantee that past trends will continue or projections will be realized. 

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Posted on Tuesday, March 6, 2018 @ 2:17 PM • Post Link Share: 
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These posts were prepared by First Trust Advisors L. P., and reflect the current opinion of the authors. They are based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable. Opinions and forward looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security.
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The information presented is not intended to constitute an investment recommendation for, or advice to, any specific person. By providing this information, First Trust is not undertaking to give advice in any fiduciary capacity within the meaning of ERISA and the Internal Revenue Code. First Trust has no knowledge of and has not been provided any information regarding any investor. Financial advisors must determine whether particular investments are appropriate for their clients. First Trust believes the financial advisor is a fiduciary, is capable of evaluating investment risks independently and is responsible for exercising independent judgment with respect to its retirement plan clients.
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