Stock ETFs provide exposure to a portfolio of publicly traded stocks and may be divided into several categories by where the stock is listed, the size of the company, whether it pays a dividend, or what sector it’s in. Typically, the ETFs that track a major index (such as the S&P 500 or Nasdaq) are the most attractive to investors. Here are the examples of popular U.S. ETFs:
- SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY)
SPY is one of the largest and most heavily-traded ETFs in the world, offering exposure to one of the most well-known stock benchmarks- the S&P 500.
- PowerShares QQQ ETF (QQQ)
QQQ offers exposure to one of the world’s most widely-followed equity benchmarks, the Nasdaq, and has become one of the most popular exchange-traded products.
- SPDR Gold Trust (GLD)
Gold is a precious metal commodity and many investors want to hold physical gold as a hedge against an overall decline in economic conditions as well as against inflation, while some may use it as a method of portfolio diversification. Investing in gold ETFs is a cost-efficient and easy way to gain exposure to gold, and the SPDR Gold Shares ETF (GLD) is one of many ETFs that offer this exposure. It tracks the price of gold bullion in the over-the-counter (OTC) market. The trust that is the sponsor of the fund holds physical gold bullion as well as some cash. GLD offers investors an innovative, relatively cost-efficient and secure way to access the gold market.
- ProShares Ultra VIX Short-Term Futures ETF (UVXY)
UVXY provides leveraged exposure to the S&P 500 VIX Short-Term Futures Index, which measures the returns of a portfolio of monthly VIX futures contracts with a weighted average of one month to expiration. The fund seeks a return that is 1.5x the return of its underlying benchmark (target) for a single day, and it is intended for short-term use; investors should actively manage and monitor their investments, as frequently as daily.
- Energy Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLE)
XLE offers liquid exposure to a market-like basket of US energy firms. The fund concentrated exposure to the giants in the industry, including companies in the oil, gas and consumable fuels, and energy equipment and services industries, etc. XLE pulls its stocks from the S&P 500 rather than the total market, so its portfolio mainly favors large-caps.
- Financial Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLF)
XLF offers efficient exposure to the heavyweights in the US financials segment. The fund is concentrated in diversified financial services; insurance; commercial banks; capital markets; real estate investment trusts; thrift & mortgage finance; consumer finance; and real estate management & development. XLF pays out a decent dividend, which may provide steady income in times of market downturns.
- Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund (XLK)
XLK grants investors the opportunity to gain exposure to numerous powerhouse tech firms all under a single ticker. This includes market segments like IT services, wireless telecommunication services, and semiconductors etc. The fund splits its assets mainly between the technology and communication services sectors, while allocating mainly to giant and large cap firms. One of the major strengths of this ETF is that it does not single out a particular sector; rather it invests in companies from all across the technology sector. This makes the fund an ideal choice for investors who want tech exposure, but are unsure as to which particular segment of this broad market that they feel will perform the best.
- iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF
The iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF seeks to track the investment results of an index composed of large- and mid-capitalization emerging market equities. Investors can easily access 800+ emerging market stocks, diversify internationally and seek long-term growth.