European stocks and region-specific exchange traded funds continue to outperform the U.S. markets as the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing program appears to be working with inflation on the rise.

For instance, the iShares MSCI EMU ETF (NYSEArca: EZU) and the SPDR EURO STOXX 50 (NYSEArca: FEZ), which both focus on Eurozone countries, gained 6.4% and 5.8%, respectively, year-to-date, while the Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (NYSEArca: VGK), which takes on U.K. and Switzerland exposure, increased 6.1%.

In contrast, the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (NYSEArca: SPY) was up 2.4% so far this year.

Alternatively, investors seeking to capture Eurozone market exposure can also consider a hedged-equity ETF that will help diminish the negative effects of a depreciating euro currency, such as the Deutsche X-Trackers MSCI Europe Hedged Equity ETF (NYSEArca: DBEU), Deutsche X-trackers MSCI EMU Hedged Equity ETF (NYSEArca: DBEZ), iShares Currency Hedged MSCI EMU ETF (NYSEArca: HEZU) and WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity Fund (NYSEArca: HEDJ). Year-to-date, DBEU was 11.3% higher, DBEZ was up 16.2%, DBEZ gained 15.6% and HEDJ increased 17.2%. [Capture Overseas Opportunities with These ETFs]

The hedged-equity ETFs were also relatively flat Friday while the non-hedged Europe ETFs fell on the depreciating euro currency. The euro fell to about $1.08, trading at an 11-1/2 year low against the dollar. The CurrencyShares Euro Currency Trust (NYSEArca: FXE) has dipped 8.9% year-to-date.

European equities were strengthening Friday on speculation that the ECB’s bond purchasing program was working as inflation expectations touched its highest in almost three months, reports Ralph Atkins for Financial Times.

“Markets have been priced for a decade of policy failure on inflation,” Laurence Mutkin, global head of rates strategy at BNP Paribas, said in the FT article. “We have now moved away from the most distressed, distorted expectations about inflation.”

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