Europe offers a multitude of investment opportunities with a number of indexes that can be tracked for European equity exposure. (See also: An Investor's Guide to the European Economy.)

Here are some top picks for 2017 as the continent is poised to capitalize on the growth potential in the U.K. and European markets.

Note: Funds were chosen on the basis of performance, comprehensive exposure and assets under management. All year-to-date (YTD) performance figures are as of October 31, 2017.

Vanguard FTSE Europe ETF (VGK)

Issuer: Vanguard

Assets under management: $17.9 billion

Expense ratio: 0.10%

YTD performance: 22.24%

VGK seeks to track the FTSE Developed Europe All Cap Index. 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 would expect, it is heavily tilted toward the U.K., France and Germany (about 45% of the portfolio), but its top ten holdings are well diversified and represent just 17% 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 28.22%, 5.95% and 8.59%, respectively. (See also: Another Treat for Vanguard Investors.)

iShares MSCI Eurozone ETF (EZU)

Issuer: BlackRock, Inc. (BLK)

Assets under management: $14.5 billion

Expense ratio: 0.48%

YTD performance: 26.68%

EZU tracks the MSCI EMU Index, which includes 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%. With 5.71 million shares traded in average daily volume, the Fund is highly liquid, and spreads are tight at 0.03%. Its one-, three- and five-year annualized returns are 31.26%, 8.04% and 9.98%, respectively. (See also: EZU iShares Eurozone ETF: Top 5 Holdings.)

WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity Fund (HEDJ)

Issuer: WisdomTree

Assets under management: $9.2 billion

Expense ratio: 0.58%

YTD performance: 15.7%

HEDJ tracks the WisdomTree Europe Hedged Equity Index which includes Eurozone companies that pay dividends and have as their main revenue source (50% or more) exports outside the Eurozone. The investment strategy includes currency hedging to mitigate fluctuations between the U.S. dollar and the euro, making the Fund more attractive to U.S. investors. 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 25.13%, 12.01% and 13.44%, respectively. (See also: Emerging Interest in Europe ETFs.)


Issuer: State Street Global Advisors

Assets under management: $4.4 billion

Expense ratio: 0.29%

YTD performance: 24.48%

As you would guess from the name, FEZ tracks the 50 largest Eurozone companies by market cap using a replication strategy that seeks to match the EURO STOXX 50 Index. 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% of the Fund's portfolio. It has decent liquidity as well, with average daily volumes in excess of 2.3 million shares. FEZ's one-, three- and five-year annualized returns are 31.16%, 6.09% and 8.81%, respectively. (See also: FEZ: SPDR EURO STOXX 50 ETF.)

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