Overseas shares gaining popularity

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The country's largest online stock brokerage says investors are increasingly investing in overseas shares.

New research from CommSec has shown a significant increase in demand for foreign-owned shares. CommSec said the number of customers opening international trading accounts has grown nearly 50% over the past six months when compared to the same period last year.

“Australians are becoming more confident in investing in foreign based companies, many of which are known globally and deliver strong returns," CommSec managing director Paul Rayson said.

CommSec pointed to a recent Investment Trends report which showed that more than 20% of Australian traders plan on increasing their exposure to international equities. This is up from less than 5% in 2011.

“We’ve seen our clients increasingly looking at overseas markets to diversify their portfolio. The Australian market will continue to remain popular due to its familiarity and relatively strong returns; however it makes up only less than 3 per cent of global market capitalisation. Investors are becoming more sophisticated and are looking for broader opportunities,” Rayson said.

Rayson said sectors such as technology, which don't have as significant a presence on the ASX, were of particular interest to investors, with trading in international technology stocks rising more than 67% over the last 18 months.

"Investors are seeing quality companies like Apple and Google in growth sectors and want to get involved," Rayson said.

Rayson said CommSec had also seen growth in internationally based ETFs.

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