NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- During the opening months of 2011, Canada has become a beacon of strength as clouds remain gathered over many parts of the developed and emerging world. Thanks to stability from its financial system, and its expansive exposure to energy and other natural resources, ETFs designed to target our neighbor to the North have managed to outpace not only the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), but also broader internationally-focused Vanguard Total World ETF (VT) on a year to date basis.Recently, Canada's economy received a vote of confidence when the International Monetary Fund boosted its outlook for 2011. According to a report from The Globe and Mail, the IMF expects our northern neighbor to witness 2.8% growth this year, up from 2.3% previously. Although this marks a considerable decline from the forecast 4% growth witnessed during the first quarter of 2011, the article notes that this was the largest upward revision seen in the IMF's report. Inflation and the housing market are among the factors that could weigh on Canada's strength in the future. However, for now the outlook for the nation appears promising. Conservative investors looking for a way to venture outside of the U.S. borders may find a Canada-related ETF to their liking. Investors can gain access to the Canadian marketplace through a number of avenues. Two of the most liquid options include the iShares MSCI Canada Index Fund ( EWC) and the Guggenheim Canadian Energy Income Fund ( ENY). Each of these products provides investors with a unique take on the nation's economy, and can be used to suit specific investing demands. Like other international funds from iShares' lineup, EWC aims to provide broad-based exposure to the Canadian marketplace. The fund achieves this goal by tracking the largest and most influential firms hailing from the nation. The fund's index is comprised of 101 individual holdings. The largest slices of the index are set aside for a number of well known banks, energy companies, and materials producers. A few of these names include Potash of Saskatchewan ( POT), Barrick Gold ( ABX), Toronto-Dominion Bank ( TD), and Suncor Energy ( SU). Together, the fund's ten largest positions represent 40% of the total index. Whereas EWC provides investors with exposure to the vast Canadian economy, ENY homes in specifically on the nation's energy markets. The fund's unique index is designed to provide exposure to both high yielding Canadian energy equities, and oil sands producers.Top holdings include Canadian Oil Sands, Suncor, Imperial Oil ( IMO), and Cenovus Energy ( CVE).
On top of allowing investors to gain first hand exposure to Canada's oil industry, ENY's focus on yield makes it an attractive option for those looking to protect against the threat of market turmoil down the road. Through the opening months of the new year, investors have maintained heavy focus on regions including Northern Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Pacific, as nations work to defend against their respective political, economic and natural crises. At times, fear and uncertainty have appeared bountiful. However, there are parts of the globe that still present promising investment opportunities for ETF investors. Canada-focused ETFs are strong options for cautious investors looking to test the international investing waters.
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