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Long-battered financial and real estate exchange-traded funds attracted investor interest in August, as mid-cap and small-cap ETFs also garnered increased interest from investors.

ETF investors traded the

iShares Dow Jones U.S. Financial Sector ETF

(IYF) - Get iShares U.S. Financials ETF Report

at a pace of slightly more than $1 billion a day, on average, during the month. The fund jumped to 15th in August in terms of average daily dollar volume from 49th in July. It rose 0.05% in August, but remains down 22.3% year to date.

IYF's largest holdings include financial mainstays

JP Morgan Chase

(JPM) - Get JPMorgan Chase & Co. Report

,

Bank of America

(BAC) - Get Bank of America Corp Report

,

Citigroup

(C) - Get Citigroup Inc. Report

and

Wells Fargo

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TheStreet Recommends

(WFC) - Get Wells Fargo & Company Report

.

The

iShares Dow Jones U.S. Real Estate ETF

(IYR) - Get iShares U.S. Real Estate ETF Report

rose to 18th most active in August in terms of average daily dollar volume from 29th most active in July. It gained 1.8% in August. The ETF remains 1.4% lower year to date.

The small cap

iShares Russell 2000 ETF

(IWM) - Get iShares Russell 2000 ETF Report

traded at an average pace of $8.65 billion a day, on average, during August, lifting it to second place from fourth among ETFs.

The accompanying table of the 20 most popular ETFs in August also shows that while the value of the

streetTRACKS Gold Trust ETF

(GLD) - Get SPDR Gold Shares Report

sank 9.3% during the month, it traded at an average daily volume of $1.35 billion. That placed it 10th highest in average daily dollar volume, an improvement from 24th place in July.

The

SPDR Mid Cap 400

(MDV)

advanced to 20th from the 33rd position by trading at an average daily volume of $804.8 million.

Remaining at the top of the list was the

SPDR S&P 500 ETF

(SPY) - Get SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust Report

, whose shares traded at an average rate of $26.57 billion per day in August. Its top holdings include blue chips

Exxon Mobil

(XOM) - Get Exxon Mobil Corporation Report

,

General Electric

(GE) - Get General Electric Company Report

,

AT&T

(T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report

and

Microsoft

(MSFT) - Get Microsoft Corporation Report

.SPY climbed 1.6% in August but still remains 11% down in 2008 to date.Third most popular ETF in August was the

PowerShares QQQ

(QQQQ)

, whose top holdings, in addition to Microsoft, include

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Apple Inc. Report

,

Qualcomm

(QCOM) - Get Qualcomm Inc Report

and

Google

(GOOG) - Get Alphabet Inc. Class C Report

.

Richard Widows is a senior financial analyst for TheStreet.com Ratings. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, Widows was senior product manager for quantitative analytics at Thomson Financial. After receiving an M.B.A. from Santa Clara University in California, his career included development of investment information systems at data firms, including the Lipper division of Reuters. His international experience includes assignments in the U.K. and East Asia.