In the past 12 months one ETF has stood out head and shoulders above its peers as the top ASX ETF.

It’s BetaShares’ Geared US Equities (ASX:GGUS), and it is up 181 per cent in 12 months.

Admittadly, this time 12 months ago it was only beginning to recover after declining in the COVID-19 market crash, but it is still a healthy 27 per cent above its pre-COVID highs.

This ETF is one of several offering exposure to global equities and to the US – a choice popular with ETF investors in recent months.

But this one, the top ASX ETF in 12 months, differs in being “internally geared”, in combining equity investors’ money with debt investors’. It then invests in the top 500 shares listed in the US by market capitalisation.

BetaShares says this allows it to achieve higher returns than the market – and it has.

The S&P 500 has only gained 21 per cent since February last year, which is still better than the ASX which has not recovered.

GGUS is also the best performing ETF in the last month, having gained 19 per cent.

BetaShares Geared US Equities (ASX:GGUS) share price chart


Other top performing ASX ETFs

While GGUS is easily the top ASX ETF in 12 months others have also achieved solid gains.

Taking silver spot is ETF Securities’ Battery Tech & Lithium ETF (ASX:ACDC) which is up 100 per cent in the last 12 months and 57 per cent since mid-February 2020.

It would seem investors agree with TradingView’s Glenn Leese who told Stockhead in January ETFs such as ACDC would be a good way to gain exposure to the batteries sector.

Of course, it invests in Tesla. But Tesla only makes seventh spot on its list of top 10 holdings. More than 11 per cent is invested in Australian-listed lithium companies Pilbara Minerals (ASX:PLS) and Galaxy Resources (ASX:GXY).

Other tech-focused ETFs have done well too.

These include Beta’s Aus Technology ETF (ASX:ATEC) (up 96 per cent), ETF Securities’ FANG (ASX:FANG) ETF (up 84 per cent) and Beta’s AsiaTech Tigers (ASX:ASIA) (up 68 per cent).

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Looking at ETFs on a monthly basis, one noteworthy performer is VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (ASX:GDX) which is up 10 per cent in the last month.

Living up to its name, it invests in the NYSE Arca Gold Miners Index which offers exposure to a mix of gold stocks from small producers to big explorers.

Between August 2018 and August 2020 it rose from $25 to nearly $60 in conjunction with gold prices. While the ETF retreated back to $40 in early March, it has begun to rise again.

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Overseas ETF news

Arguably the biggest boost to the global ETF markets in recent days was an announcement by Grayscale Investments that it would be converting its flagship Bitcoin Trust into an ETF.

It’s Bitcoin trust is the largest and most liquid Bitcoin investment product in the world.

Inevitably, this would be a game-changer for both the ETF and cryptocurrency industries – making investing in cryptocurrencies as easy as any other financial asset.

Yet the SEC has knocked back several attempts in the past. Grayscale itself tried it back in 2016 and despite being committed, admits the timing will be driven by the regulatory environment.

“The digital asset market is developing and maturing every day, and while this may bring new challenges, it’s never been more exciting to be a part of this industry,” it said.

“Grayscale is as committed as ever to expanding access to digital currencies and offering investors more opportunities to invest in this asset class.”

So what’s the closest thing investors have on the ASX?

One ASX stock, DigitalX (ASX:DCC), runs a Bitcoin fund and it has nearly tripled since July last year during the latest crypto bull run.

In February, its CEO Leigh Travers told Stockhead Australia was 2-3 years behind the US markets in crypto adoption but would catch up eventually.