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By Heather Bell

State Street Global Advisors yesterday took sector ETFs in a new direction with the launch of 10 international sector ETFs on the American Stock Exchange.

Yes, Barclays Global Investors has offered international sectors for years, and WisdomTree (WSDT.PK), among others, has a full set as well. But the latest SPDRs are different from either of those sector families.

For one thing, unlike the iShares global sector ETFs, the new ones from SSgA exclude the U.S. This gives investors more flexibility since most U.S. investors already have a domestic allocation and may not want to duplicate those holdings with sector funds. For example, if investors have a core holding in the iShares S&P 500 Index Fund (NYSE: IVV), they may not want to own the iShares S&P Global Energy Sector Index Fund (NYSE: IXC). Exxon Mobile (NYSE:XOM), after all, has a 3.98% weighting in IVV, and a 14.29% weighting in IXC - a portfolio holding both ETFs could be making a heavy bet on just one company.

"Developed in response to demand from investors seeking targeted exposure to sectors that do not include U.S.-listed securities, our international sector SPDR ETFs offer the opportunity to make precise, cost-effective tactical and strategic allocations that can help manage portfolio risk and improve returns," said SSgA Senior Managing Director James Ross.

Also, the underlying indexes are broader for the new SPDRs than they are for the iShares international sectors - those are derived from the S&P Global 1200 Index and tend to be narrower. One of the new SPDRs - the SPDR S&P International Industrial Sector ETF (AMEX: IPN) - covers 1,200 stocks just on its own.

And, of course, unlike WisdomTree's suite of international ex-U.S. ETFs, the SPDR ETFs are weighted by float-adjusted market capitalization, not dividends.

The new funds cover the 10 sectors of the S&P World ex-U.S. Broad Market Indices, with the number of components in each sector ranging from as few as 70 (Telecommunications) to more than 1,200 (Industrials). Individual components must have market capitalizations of at least $100 million. Three of the sectors - Financial, Healthcare and Technology cover only developed markets, while the remainder can include stocks from both emerging and developed markets. However, there do not appear to be any emerging markets represented in the portfolios currently.

The new ETFs include the following:

  • SPDR S&P International Consumer Discretionary Sector ETF (AMEX: IPD)
  • SPDR S&P International Consumer Staples Sector ETF (AMEX: IPS)
  • SPDR S&P International Energy Sector ETF (AMEX: IPW)
  • SPDR S&P International Financial Sector ETF (AMEX: IPF)
  • SPDR S&P International Health Care Sector ETF (AMEX: IRY)
  • SPDR S&P International Industrial Sector ETF (AMEX: IPN)
  • SPDR S&P International Materials Sector ETF (AMEX: IRV)
  • SPDR S&P International Technology Sector ETF (AMEX: IPK)
  • SPDR S&P International Telecommunications Sector ETF (AMEX: IST)
  • SPDR S&P International Utilities Sector ETF (AMEX: IPU)

Each fund charges an expense ratio of 0.50%, which is slightly more expensive than the iShares international sectors' 0.48%, but less expensive than the WisdomTree international sector's 0.58%.

SSgA's lineup of funds includes the Select Sector SPDRs, which are based on the S&P 500's sectors and have the most assets of any U.S. sector ETF family.

You can read the prospectus for the SPDR S&P International Sector ETFs here.

Source: State Street Launches 10 Ex-U.S. Sector ETFs