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Feb 26, 2021

Cathie Wood's main ETF rebounds after US$4.9B asset plunge

Bill Gates says don’t bet on bitcoin unless you've got money to burn

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Ark Investment Management’s miserable week showed signs of easing on Friday, with its flagship exchange-traded fund halting a four-day slide.

The ARK Innovation ETF (ticker ARKK) closed higher, after swinging between gains and losses throughout the session. It still dropped 15 per cent this week amid a technology selloff that was triggered by rising Treasury yields, putting pressure on high-flying stocks. One of those shares is electric-car maker Tesla Inc., which remains as the ETF’s biggest holding and has faced intense volatility.

The last time Ark founder Cathie Wood suffered a weekly run this bad was almost a year ago, during the worst of the Covid-fueled mayhem. Her main fund is now 11 times larger than it was then. It got close to erasing its gains for 2021 this week after soaring as much as 26 per cent since the end of December.

Assets in the ETF have slumped by US$4.9 billion this week to US$23.3 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The figure doesn’t include flows from Thursday, when ARKK dropped 6.4 per cent for its worst day in almost six months. Investors pulled about US$200 million from the fund in Wednesday trading. That brings total weekly outflows to US$638 million, on pace to be the worst on record.

“Money that is ‘easy come’ tends to be money that is ‘easy go’,” said Ben Johnson, Morningstar’s global director of ETF research. “You’re going to see similar, if not potentially greater, market impact on the way down, especially given that this is an actively managed ETF and a fully transparent one. The market is hanging on their every move, they’re watching their every move.”

Bearish bets against the ETF continue to grow, with short interest now accounting for more than 4 per cent of available shares, according to data from IHS Markit Ltd.

Michael Purves, chief executive officer at Tallbacken Capital Advisors, said in a note Thursday that his firm is taking profits on ARKK puts, but “will look to re-enter a second bearish trade on a bounce.”

Ark Investment slipped to the eighth place among the largest exchange-traded fund issuers in the US$5.9 trillion industry, after becoming the seventh biggest earlier this month. Total ETF assets for the company are now just shy of US$53 billion, down from more than US$60 billion at the prior peak.

Wood’s US$10.6 billion ARK Genomic Revolution ETF (ARKG) lost US$154 million on Wednesday, for its third straight day of outflows. At the same time, traders pulled another US$48 million from ARK Next Generation Internet ETF (ARKW).

“If one were still in agreement with Ark on their long-term investment thesis, a meaningful market correction might provide an opportunity to participate more,” Linda Zhang, founder of Purview Investments.