The FTSE, a subsidiary of the London Stock Exchange (LSE), is an index of the 100 or 250 largest companies by market cap listed on the LSE. If you're looking for broad exposure to the developed European market, a fund that tracks the Footsie (as it's informally known) is often a fairly uncomplicated place to start. (See also: An Investor's Guide to the European Economy.)

However, one thing to keep in mind is that there may be special tax considerations when you invest in exchange-traded funds (ETFs) domiciled in a foreign country, as many FTSE-indexed funds are. Be sure to check the fund prospectus to verify your tax exposure before you invest. (See also: Beginner's Guide to Tax-Efficient Investing.)

Here are some top FTSE picks for 2017 that are poised to capitalize on the growth potential in the U.K. and European markets. Note: Funds were chosen on the basis of both performance and assets under management. All year-to-date (YTD) performance figures represent the period from Jan. 1, 2017, through April 10, 2017. All figures were current as of April 10, 2017.

Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (VGK)

Issuer: Vanguard

Assets under management: $11.41 billion

Expense ratio: 0.10 percent

YTD performance: 7.27 percent

There are over 1,200 equities in VGK's basket of holdings, representing an all-cap, capitalization-weighted index of equities from developed European countries. As you'd expect, it is heavily tilted toward the U.K., France and Germany (about 45 percent of the portfolio), but its top ten holdings are well diversified and represent just 17 percent of the fund's assets. With its high liquidity and extremely low holding costs, VGK is a good choice for broad European exposure. The fund's one-, three- and five-year annualized returns are 10.49 percent, -1.30 percent and 7.24 percent, respectively. (See also: Another Treat for Vanguard Investors.)

WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity Fund (HEDJ)

Issuer: WisdomTree

Assets under management: $9.33 billion

Expense ratio: 0.58 percent

YTD performance: 9.58 percent

HEDJ tracks a Eurozone index of companies that pay dividends and have as their main revenue source (50 percent or more) exports outside the Eurozone. It is generally used as a hedge against the euro for investors in the U.S. When the euro weakens, local gains are not lost in the conversion to dollars. There are 133 holdings in the portfolio concentrated in France, Germany and Spain. This is a highly liquid fund with tight spreads, making it a good choice for tactical trading despite its relatively high holding costs. HEDJ's one-, three- and five-year annualized returns are 27.56 percent, 10.02 percent and 13.07 percent, respectively. (See also: Emerging Interest in Europe ETFs.)

iShares MSCI Eurozone ETF (EZU)

Issuer: BlackRock, Inc. (BLK)

Assets under management: $9.19 billion

Expense ratio: 0.48 percent

YTD performance: 7.51 percent

EZU tracks the MSCI Europe IMI, which selects large- and mid-cap companies in the Eurozone. Notably, this excludes companies in the U.K., Sweden and Switzerland, which in turn excludes about half of Europe's market cap. There are 236 equities in the fund's portfolio, heavily concentrated in Germany and France. However, the weighting of the top 10 holdings is just 23 percent. With $190 million in average daily volume, the fund is highly liquid, and spreads are tight at 0.03 percent. Its one-, three- and five-year annualized returns are 13.94 percent, -1.46 percent and 8.12 percent, respectively. (See also: EZU iShares Eurozone ETF: Top 5 Holdings.)


Issuer: State Street Global Advisors

Assets under management: $2.84 billion

Expense ratio: 0.29 percent

YTD performance: 7.41 percent

As you'd guess from the name, FEZ tracks the 50 largest Eurozone companies by market cap. This is another fund that excludes half of the European market cap by focusing only on countries that use the euro. However, its low costs make it an attractive choice for investors who want exposure to primarily French and German equities, which make up a little more than 70 percent of the fund's portfolio. It has decent liquidity as well, with average daily volumes in excess of $90 million. FEZ's one-, three- and five-year annualized returns are 14.91 percent, -2.37 percent and 7.59 percent, respectively. (See also: FEZ: SPDR EURO STOXX 50 ETF.)

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