Most Searched ETFs: Intense Focus

Frequent readers of our looks at the most searched exchange traded funds of the week know that there are usually a few, say two or three, niche funds that are highly trafficked in a given week.

That was not the case this week as it is an array hyper-focused or niched ETFs that dominate the list with only few true broad market funds making appearances.

While not scientific, perhaps this week’s search results indicate investors are taking more tactical approaches as U.S. stocks struggle and that increasingly refined approach is not limited to U.S. ETFs. The trend is evident with fixed income and international ETFs as well.

Take this week’s two most searched international ETFs, the db X-trackers Harvest CSI 300 China A-Shares Fund (NYSEArca: ASHR) and the KraneShares CSI China Internet Fund (NasdaqGM: KWEB). Both ASHR and KWEB represent tactical ways to access the Chinese economy and the two are among the best non-leveraged ETFs of any stripe over the past month. [China ETFs Continue to Impress]

ASHR finished the week with a 1.3% gain on Friday, bring its one-month gain to 9.3%. KWEB was no slouch, gaining 1.7% on Friday, a day after we highlighted the ETF’s recent surge. KWEB is up 8.1% in the past month. [China Internet ETF on a Stellar Run]

This week’s most searched commodities ETF is also the most searched industry and a familiar face as well: The Market Vectors Gold Miners ETF (NYSEArca: GDX). GDX and rival miners ETFs have outpacing gold-backed ETFs in a big way recently, a trend that was extended this week as GDX climbed 2.3%.

However, that was not enough to get the largest miners ETF to a close around $28, the price area that a lot of traders are pointing to as representing a new breakout for the ETF. [Gold Miners ETF Flirts With a Big Rally]

With U.S. stocks struggling, some investors are looking to hedge their equity exposure. That theme sparked elevated searches of the AdvisorShares Ranger Equity Bear ETF (NYSEArca: HDGE) and thePowerShares S&P 500 Downside Hedged Portfolio (NYSEArca: PHDG) with both ETFs making their first appearances on one of our most searched lists.

On a loosely related, investors looking to remain long U.S. stocks appear to be favoring quality stocks. A logical idea to be sure and one that brings the iShares MSCI USA Quality Factor ETF (NYSEArca: QUAL) and the FlexShares Quality Dividend Index Fund (NYSEArca: QDF) onto the list for the first time this week.

A company’s ability to generate free cash and dividend growth and stability are integral tenants of the quality factor, making its application practical in dividend ETFs such as QDF. Additionally, QDF’s almost 210 holdings are among the safest stocks in terms of dividend coverage. The ETF is up 4.4% this year. [The Allure of Quality ETFs]

This week’s most searched U.S. sector funds all hail from the energy sector with the Energy Select Sector SPDR (NYSEArca: XLE) and the Market Vectors Unconventional Oil & Gas ETF (NYSEArca: FRAK) leading the way.