Exchange-traded funds focused on international holdings continue to take the investment world by storm, according to the Associated Press.

In the past 12 months, total ETF assets rose 38% to $335.1 billion, while global ETFs almost doubled, to $82.8 billion, according to the Investment Company Institute in Washington. 

International markets have performed well in the past few years, noted J. D. Steinhilber, founder of AgileInvesting.com.  With low expense ratios--about 0.53%, compared to 1.68% for international mutual funds--and great liquidity, international ETFs have become a vehicle of choice for those who hope to protect a portion of their portfolios from the ups and downs of U.S. markets, by investing abroad.

International ETFs represent about 26% of all money invested in U.S.-based funds, compared to 21% for long-term mutual funds that invest in companies abroad.

Advisers like Bill Donoghue, president of W.E. Donoghue & Co. in Natick, Mass., said that his firm began using Fidelity international mutual funds to help diversify clients' portfolios, but switched to ETFs in the past five years to take advantage of the ability to trade actively.

"Fidelity tried to discourage us," Donoghue said. But he doesn't regret the switch.

Fidelity spokeswoman Sophie Launay said that the redemption fees that turned Donoghue away reflect the buy-and-hold design of the funds.

Today, investors can choose from 63 different global equity funds, in addition to several other single-family funds that allow investors to choose countries like Malaysia, without having to scout for individual companies there to invest in.

 

Rudy Aguilera, an investment adviser in Orlando-based Helios suggests clients invest in broader ETFs such as the iShares MSCI EAFE Index Fund, which has $29.4 billion under management or the $12 billion iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Funds, rather than single-country funds.

The staff of Money Management Executive ("MME") has prepared these capsule summaries based on reports published by the news sources to which they are attributed. Those news sources are not associated with MME, and have not prepared, sponsored, endorsed, or approved these summaries.

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