Investors are using exchange traded funds to embrace more risk in their portfolios and get exposure to tougher-to-reach areas of the market.

The rally in stocks so far in 2012 has pushed ETF assets close to record levels, CNBC.com reports.

“Investors definitely sense the improvement in the global macro picture and need their quick sugar high exposure to equities,” said Brian Stutland of Stutland Equities in the report. “Thus, rather than figure out which stock to pick in a sector, they can just bang out exposure to oil, gold, emerging markets, industrials, etc.”

Market appreciation and inflows have pushed ETF assets over $ 1 trillion. The iShares S&P 500 (NYSEArca: IVV) is up about 7% year to date.

“Pros are using the ETF space to quickly trade in areas that used to be tougher to trade in, i.e., foreign currencies,” Michael Murphy, president of Rosecliff Capital, told CNBC.

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