Exchange-traded fund assets around the world surged by 6.7% in the first quarter to $1.399 trillion, with investors pouring a net $41.4 billion into ETFs in the first quarter—more than double their investments in the first quarter of 2010, BlackRock reported.

“Net inflows in the first quarter indicate that the exchange-traded fund/exchange-traded product industry is off to a much faster start this year, since the quarter is historically slow in terms of net new assets,” said Deborah Fuhr, global head of ETF research and implementation strategy at BlackRock.

BlackRock also said there are now 2,605 ETFs on the market from 142 providers, trading on 48 exchanges around the world, up from 2,131 products from 123 providers, trading on 42 exchanges in the first quarter of 2010. Combining ETFs and ETPs, there are 3,724 products from 178 providers, trading on 52 exchanges, up from 2,849 products from 147 providers, trading on 44 exchanges in the first quarter of 2010.

“In 2011’s first quarter, global investment markets were shaken by a range of extraordinary events—from social and political unrest throughout the Middle East and northern Africa, to unpredictable weather and the still-unresolved nuclear event in Japan following a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami,” Fuhr said. “In this period, $41.4 billion of net new assets flowed into a broad spectrum of ETF products as investors responded to these events and were able to implement appropriate, highly focused investment strategies in a timely fashion.”