Small-capitalization stocks and related exchange traded funds (ETFs) have usually lead the markets as an economy recovers, and so far, the scenario has played out accordingly. Fund providers have rolled out a slew of new small-cap ETFs, but are they too late?

The Russell 2000 index of small-cap U.S. stocks has returned about 49% in the past year as compared to 40% for larger companies on the Russell 1000, reports Ian Salisbury for The Wall Street Journal.

And don’t forget that during the 36 months following each of the last 15 recessions, small-caps outperformed large caps by an annualized average of 5.6%. And this time it looks to be true, as well: in the last six months, small-caps are up about 14% while large-caps are up about 4%.

Fund providers have responded to the surge in small-caps with new niche ETFs targeting  both domestic and international small-cap sectors. [Where The Small-Cap ETF Opportunities Are Now.]

Research has suggested that investors should have bought small-caps around the time when the economy stopped shrinking and started to grow again, which many economists believe to have taken place last fall.

As we always say: you can’t fight the trend. In small-caps, it’s there. And thanks to ETFs, there are more ways than ever to get your fix. It’s also important to note that the small-cap trend isn’t exactly a new one: since 2000, small-caps have outperformed large-caps in every year but one: 2007. That’s nothing to sniff at.

PowerShares recently launched nine small-cap U.S. sector ETFs that already appear to be popular additions to the market. [PowerShares’ 9 New Small-Cap ETFs.]

IndexIQ has also recently launched small-cap ETFs aimed at small companies in countries like Canada and South Korea. [IndexIQ Launches Two New Small-Cap ETFs.]

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