Investors loving foreign stocks...

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After crossing over to the second half of 2017, exchange traded fund investors have so exhibited a big preference for international equities over domestic U.S. stocks.

While the most popular ETF of 2017 is still the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF (NYSEARCA: IVV), which has attracted $17.5 billion in net inflows year-to-date, according to XTF data, developed and emerging market ETF options are among the next most popular investment locals.

The iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF (NYSEArca: IEFA) is the second most popular ETF of the year, bringing in $11.3 billion in net inflows. The Core MSCI EAFE ETF tries to reflect the performance of the benchmark MSCI EAFE IMI, which includes companies from developed countries across Europe, Australia and Far East countries, including Japan 24.2%, U.K. 17.7%, France 9.5%, Germany 9.1% and Switzerland 7.9%, among others.

The iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (NYSEArca: IEMG) saw $11.1 billion in net inflows year-to-date. The Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF tracks the MSCI Emerging Markets Investable Market Index, which include broad exposure to emerging market companies from countries like China 26.0%, South Korea 15.5%, Taiwan 13.0%, India 9.5% and Brazil 6.3%.

The Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (NYSEArca: VEA) added $10.0 billion so far this year. The FTSE Developed Markets ETF follows the FTSE Developed All Cap ex US Index. Unlike the MSCI developed markets options, this FTSE index includes Canada exposure, along with major markets of Europe and Pacific regions. Canada makes up 8.0% of the fund's underlying portfolio.

Lastly, the iShares MSCI EAFE ETF (NYSEArca: EFA) experienced $9.5 billion in net flows this year. The ETF tracks the benchmark MSCI EAFE Index. While EFA may many similarities with the other developed market-related ETFs listed above, VEA and IEFA include small-cap exposure that may provide better diversification benefits. Furthermore, IEFA comes with a much cheaper 0.08% expense ratio, compared to EFA's 0.33% expense ratio.

The preference for low-cost ETF investments has been an ongoing theme in the fund industry as more investors shift away from costlier options in favor of low expenses to maximize potential returns. This is also reflected by ETF investor's increasing demand for IVV, which has a 0.04% expense ratio, compared to 0.10% expense ratio for the much larger and more widely recognized SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEARCA: SPY).

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