Small caps rake in big bucks; top week in 14 years

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Russell 2000 on track for weekly gain

A volatile week for financial markets has produced at least one clear winner.

Small-cap stocks, previously Wall Street's biggest laggards, took on a leadership role as the market bent and swayed in a storm of tumult that provided unpleasant reminders of the financial crisis.

While major indexes including the and Dow Jones industrial average sustained huge swings that resulted in comparatively modest losses, the —the primary index for small caps—had risen an impressive 3.7 percent as of Friday morning trade.

The performance was especially impressive considering the barometer had actually entered official correction territory—down more than 10 percent from its most recent high—as investors abandoned the space.

Money flows drove the performance, with one exchange-traded fund in particular reaping the benefits.