by Ken Hawkins



Although the first exchange-traded funds (ETFs) were designed to track broad market stock indexes, since that time, ETFs have been developed to track industrial sectors, investment styles, fixed income, global investments, commodities and currencies. ETFs are now available to replicate just about any index available. All that is required is that there is enough investor interest to make the ETF profitable.


An ETF trades like a stock on a stock exchange. However, like a mutual fund, the ETF has a structure that pools the assets of its investors and uses professional money managers to invest the money. Unlike most mutual funds, which are actively managed, most ETFs are passively managed. An ETF most resembles an index fund that tracks the same index and its performance should closely mirror the index it tracks.


An investor who wants to buy ETFs has a myriad of options to choose from in equities, foreign stocks, fixed income and alternative investment. There are also many different strategies the investor can employ when using ETFs. Like other investments, it is important for the investor to evaluate the different options to ensure the right ETF is chosen for the job.




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