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The Best Performing ETFs of 2012

ETF Winners in 2012, So Far

Best-performing-ETF-2012-cover.jpg
For nearly 20 years, have been available to investors, offering instant diversification to portfolios while also providing the liquidity and tradability of a stock. ETFs are usually based on a variety of asset classes, but can also be specialized to cater to individual strategies — such as leveraged long or short ETFs and actively managed funds. So far in 2012, the stock market has seen stong upward momentum, with the S&P 500 rising 7.9 percent year-to-date — but many of the top ETFs have far s
Photo: Comstock Images | Getty Images

For nearly 20 years, exchange-traded funds (ETFs)have been available to investors, offering  diversification, liquidity and tax advantages, along with the tradability of a stock. ETFs are usually based on a number of asset classes, but can also be specialized to cater to individual strategies — such as leveraged long or short ETFs and actively managed funds.

So far in 2012, the stock market has been strong, with the S&P 500up 7.9 percent. but many of the top ETFs have far surpassed that gain. Although experts an make a bull caseor bear casefor 2012, some of the top performing ETFs reflect broad market trends.

To get an idea of which ETFs have been the most successful, the CNBC.com analytics teampored through the 100-largest funds (based on assets under management) to see which had the best year-to-date performance. The funds in this group have market capitalizations between $2.2 billion and $73.3 billion. ETFs with a 10-day average volume less than 1 million shares were excluded. Prices and market capitalizations were calculated as of the market close on Feb. 22.

So, which ETFs have been the top performers so far this year? Click ahead to find out.

By Paul Toscano and Giovanny Moreano
Posted 23 Feb 2012

10. SPDR Gold Trust (GLD)

Best-performing-ETF-2012-spdr-gold.jpg
YTD % change: +13.78% Price (2/22/12): $172.94 Market cap: $73.29 billion 10-day avg. volume: 10,692,483 Year high: $185.85 Year low: $135.23
Photo: spdrgoldshares.com

YTD change: +13.78%
Price (2/22/12): $172.94
Market cap: $73.29 billion

10-day avg. volume: 10,692,483
Year high: $185.85
Year low: $135.23

9. iShares Gold Trust (IAU)

Photo: Tom Grill | Iconica | Getty Images

YTD change: +13.85%
Price (2/22/12): $17.34
Market cap: $10.25 billion

10-day avg. volume: 5,488,512
Year high: $18.63
Year low: $13.55

8. iShares Trust MSCI Taiwan Index (EWT)

Best-performing-ETF-2012-taiwan.jpg
YTD % change: +14.24% Price (2/22/12): $13.37Market cap: $2.46 billion10-day avg. volume: 6,291,578 Year high: $16.06 Year low: $11.19
Photo: Patrick Lin | AFP | Getty Images

YTD change: +14.24%
Price (2/22/12): $13.37
Market cap: $2.46 billion

10-day avg. volume: 6,291,578
Year high: $16.06
Year low: $11.19

7. iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index Fund (EEM)

Best-performing-ETF-2012-emerging-markets.jpg
YTD % change: +15.51% Price (2/22/12): $43.82 Market cap: $40.27 billion 10-day avg. volume: 49,802,427 Year high: $50.43 Year low: $33.42
Photo: Getty Images

YTD change: +15.51%
Price (2/22/12): $43.82
Market cap: $40.27 billion

10-day avg. volume: 49,802,427
Year high: $50.43
Year low: $33.42

6. iShares FTSE China 25 Index Fund (FXI)

Best-performing-ETF-2012-china.jpg
YTD % change: +15.63% Price (2/22/12): $40.32 Market cap: $7.09 billion 10-day avg. volume: 15,019,251 Year high: $46.40 Year low: $28.61
Photo: ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images

YTD change: +15.63%
Price (2/22/12): $40.32
Market cap: $7.09 billion

10-day avg. volume: 15,019,251
Year high: $46.40
Year low: $28.61

5. Vanguard MSCI Emerging Markets (VWO)

Best-performing-ETF-2012-vanguard.jpg
YTD % change: +15.81% Price (2/22/12): $44.25 Market cap: $54.23 billion 10-day avg. volume: 20,835,009 Year high: $50.92 Year low: $34.21
Photo: vanguard.com

YTD change: +15.81%
Price (2/22/12): $44.25
Market cap: $54.23 billion

10-day avg. volume: 20,835,009
Year high: $50.92
Year low: $34.21

4. iShares MSCI Germany Index Fund (EWG)

Best-performing-ETF-2012-germany.jpg
YTD % change: +18.31% Price (2/22/12): $22.74 Market cap: $3.05 billion 10-day avg. volume: 4,945,557 Year high: $29.05 Year low: $16.96
Photo: Hannelore Foerster | Bloomberg | Getty Images

YTD change: +18.31%
Price (2/22/12): $22.74
Market cap: $3.05 billion

10-day avg. volume: 4,945,557
Year high: $29.05
Year low: $16.96

3. Market Vectors Junior Gold Miners ETF (GDXJ)

Best-performing-ETF-2012-gold-mining.jpg
YTD % change: +19.31% Price (2/22/12): $29.47 Market cap: $2.5 billion 10-day avg. volume: 2,389,159 Year high: $42.97 Year low: $22.58
Photo: Michael Dunning | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images

YTD change: +19.31%
Price (2/22/12): $29.47
Market cap: $2.5 billion

10-day avg. volume: 2,389,159
Year high: $42.97
Year low: $22.58

2. iShares MSCI Brazil Index Fund (EWZ)

Best-performing-ETF-2012-brazil.jpg
YTD % change: +19.79% Price (2/22/12): $68.75 Market cap: $10.79 billion 10-day avg. volume: 13,720,276 Year high: $80.23 Year low: $49.25
Photo: Yasuyoshi Chiba | AFP | Getty Images

YTD change: +19.79%
Price (2/22/12): $68.75
Market cap: $10.79 billion

10-day avg. volume: 13,720,276
Year high: $80.23
Year low: $49.25

1. iShares Silver Trust (SLV)

Best-performing-ETF-2012-silver.jpg
YTD % change: +24.13% Price (2/22/12): $33.44 Market cap: $10.61 billion 10-day avg. volume: 14,469,197 Year high: $48.35 Year low: $25.65
Photo: David Muir | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images

YTD change: +24.13%
Price (2/22/12): $33.44
Market cap: $10.61 billion

10-day avg. volume: 14,469,197
Year high: $48.35
Year low: $25.65