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Vanguard ETF Australia’s stock market favourite in 2019


Buying stocks.

Vanguard's Australian shares ETF (VAS) was the most-traded product last year on the ASX.

In 2019, the most popular product traded on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) wasn't a stock at all but an exchange traded fund (ETF).

More people invested in the Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF (VAS) in 2019 than any listed stock, according to the latest results from portfolio tracker Sharesight.

Sharesight, which is used by 50,000 Australians to track their investment portfolios, records which stocks are the most popular each month by individual trades. Below is a list of the 20 most-traded (bought and sold) shares and ETFs in Australia in the last 12 months to December 17.

Most-traded stocks of 2019

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Source: Sharesight, December 17, 2019

Among the top five traded shares were the Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS), Afterpay (APT), Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS), Australian Foundation Investment Company (AFI) and Telstra (TLS).

In 2018, it was Telstra that took home the top spot, followed by VAS and NAB in third place, with more people buying rather than selling in each case.

Of the 20 most-traded products last year, there was a clear shift in preference towards ETFs. In 2019, listed funds made up one-quarter of the list, with Vanguard appearing four times along with the Betashares' Nasdaq ETF (NDQ).

Australia's ETF love affair

ETFs have risen in popularity in Australia in the last few years and delivered solid results in 2019. Most track the performance of various stock markets or a selection of stocks – so instead of buying shares in one company, you can invest in hundreds or even thousands of companies in one transaction.

The Vanguard Group is one of the most well-known ETF and index fund providers globally. Its Aussie Shares ETF (VAS), which tracks Australia's largest 300 listed companies, is Australia's most popular index fund with $4.5 billion in funds under management.

In the last 12 months, the Vanguard Australian Shares Index ETF has returned profits of 19.24% (to November 29), mostly in line with the exceptional performance of the ASX200 index, which returned 25.98% during that same time. As a comparison, there are currently 10 ETFs that track the largest companies on the ASX along with VAS. Here's how they performed in the last 12 months to December:

Australia large company index fund ETFs
ASX CodeFund NameFees (% p.a.)1 Year Total Return
SFYSPDR S&P/ASX 500.2921.80%
VLCVanguard MSCI Australian Large Companies Index ETF0.2021.34%
UBAUBS IQ MSCI Australian Ethical ETF0.1720.45%
A200Betashares Australia 200 ETF0.0719.79%
IOZiShares Core S&P/ASX 200 ETF0.0919.66%
ILCiShares S&P/ASX 20 ETF0.2419.53%
VASVanguard Australian Shares Index ETF0.1019.24%
MVWVanEck Vectors Australian Equal Weight ETF0.3518.94%
STWSPDR S&P/ASX 2000.1918.85%
QOZBetaShares FTSE RAFI Australia 200 ETF0.4017.59%
Source: ASX, November 29, 2019.

The 10 index funds achieved similar results, with the best performers focusing in on the largest 50 companies, rather than the broader 200 companies.

You can check out the best and worst performing ETFs list, which includes all listed managed funds, index funds and exchange traded commodities, and find out more about exchange traded products in our guide.

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