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What Is ETF Liquidity and Its Importance

23 Sep 2023

Liquidity is an indispensable aspect of investing, providing investors with straightforward buying and selling. Regarding Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), liquidity is of significant importance. In this blog, we'll explore the concept of ETF liquidity and why it matters.

What Are ETFs?

ETFs are investment funds traded on stock exchanges, much like individual stocks. So, their main aim is to replicate the performance of an index, commodity, or basket of assets. These ETFs offer investors an easy and cost-effective way to diversify their portfolios by exposure to various asset classes, sectors, or investment strategies.

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What is ETF Liquidity?

ETF liquidity refers to the ease with which investors can trade ETFs in exchange. ETFs are considered multifaceted asset baskets. Therefore, the higher the liquidity of each underlying asset comprising an ETF, the easier it will be to redeem the entire ETF.

ETFs feature two liquidity components - underlying asset liquidity and ETF liquidity. Due to their complex creation/redemption procedures, most ETFs measure their liquidity by reference to their underlying assets. This may include stocks, bonds, gold, etc. 

Trading activity is one of the primary sources of liquidity for ETFs, though it's not the only one. An increase in secondary market trading volumes increases an ETF's liquidity significantly.

Why Does ETF Liquidity Matter? 

  • Trading Ease: Liquidity ensures you can quickly purchase or sell ETF shares near their fair market value. It simplifies trading for investors who need to make quick investment decisions or execute large trades without negatively affecting the ETF's price. 
  • Cost Efficiency: Liquid ETFs often feature narrower bid-ask spreads, which helps lower overall trading costs and saves on spread costs when buying and selling ETFs. Narrower spreads mean less money is lost to "spread costs."
  • Price Stability: Liquidity is essential in maintaining price stability; insufficient liquidity can lead to significant price swings that make assessing an ETF's true worth difficult.
  • Risk Management: Liquidity risk, the inability to sell an ETF when desired, can be an issue in illiquid markets. Aiming for greater liquidity allows you to have an exit strategy even during volatile market conditions.

Factors Affecting ETF Liquidity

Multiple factors can have an impact on an ETF's liquidity:

  • Underlying Assets: The liquidity of assets held within an ETF can affect its liquidity; those tracking highly liquid assets tend to have more liquid funds.
  • Market Conditions: Economic events, market sentiment, and external factors play a part in ETF liquidity. Under times of market stress, liquidity can deplete quickly, leading to wider spreads and higher trading costs for ETFs.
  • Size of ETF Funds: Larger ETFs typically enjoy greater liquidity due to attracting more investors and trading activity.


When looking for ETF fund liquidity, it is essential that you consider the underlying asset's liquidity and also the bid-ask spread. Then, make any investment choice. 


Related Articles: How to Open a Demat Account Without a Broker | Factors to Keep in Mind While Opening a Demat account | Factors to Consider When Opening a Demat Account 


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