Exchange Traded Funds Primer

Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) are a group of passive index funds that trade on an exchange like an individual stock. At the time of writing there are 162 ETFs with $220 billion in assets under management trading on U.S. exchanges.

ETFs hold a basket of securities that mimic the results of various indices including broad stock and bond market, industry sectors, and international securities. New niche funds are being created regularly. Recent introductions include gold and China funds, and there are rumors that a silver ETF will soon be available.

The most popular ETF is the NASDAQ 100 Tracking Stock (QQQQ) trading 50 million shares a day on the NASDAQ Stock Market. The volume leaders on the American Stock Exchange are the SPDRS (SPY) tracking the S&P 500 trading 25 million shares per day, the Energy SPDR (XLE), Japan iShares (EWJ), Russell 2000 iShares (IWM), and the Financial SPDR (XLF).

ETFs are widely used by institutional and individual investors as a tool for diversification, risk reduction, hedging, and an efficient way to acquire a basket of securities providing partial ownership in all holdings with only a single commission and small administration fees. ETFs are also transparent, meaning that investors know at all times what securities they are invested in.

There are now also options and futures contracts trading on of ETFs. The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) lists 43 options on ETFs, while the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) offers futures contracts on the S&P 500 Depository Receipts, NASDAQ 100 Tracking Stock, and Russell 2000 Index Fund. And One Chicago, a joint venture between the CBOE, CME, and Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), offers an electronically traded futures contract on the DIAMONDS Dow Jones Industrial Average ETF.

There are also a number of web sites offering information on Exchange Traded Funds. Check out Amex.com, Yahoo! Finance's ETF Center, ETFConnect, or ETFera.com. Meanwhile, investment research firm Morningstar compares the fair value estimates to market prices of exchange traded funds holdings to determine whether a fund is over or undervalued.

Exchange Traded Fund's low costs, liquidity, and diversification make them an excellent alternative to mutual funds, broad based index investments, and individual stocks in niche sectors.

Mark Mahorney is the owner of Cofishop Media Group located in Keystone, CO. Cofishop is a diverse marketing services organization and online content syndicator of a suite of financial sites. Mark has been a contributing author to The Motley Fool and published in numerous leading financial publications.

Mark inks The Market Speculator newsletter, a hedged approach to market profits for individual investors. You can also read his scrawls, scribbles, rambles, and rants on the markets and whatever other ilk gets his ire at BlogginWallStreet.com and Marketblog.com.

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In The News:

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How to Choose Between ETFs and Mutual Funds  U.S. News & World ReportInvestors can add either mutual funds or ETFs to their portfolio.
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How Vanguard Patented a Way to Avoid Taxes on Mutual Funds  BloombergControversial heartbeat trades help the funds avoid taxable gains.
China Stocks at the Mercy of Foreigners Like Never Before  BloombergThe record pace of foreign selling in China's equities matters now more than ever. While overseas traders are quickly souring on yuan assets, they've also never ...
What netas invest in: mutual funds, Reliance, KF shares  Deccan HeraldFixed deposits and tax-free bonds seem to be among the most favoured financial investments for the political leaders fighting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, while ...
Financial planners recommend new fund from Mirae Mutual Fund  Economic TimesConsistent performance of the existing equity mutual fund schemes at Mirae has prompted financial planners to suggest the Mirae Asset Focused Fund to ...
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Mutual Fund Update: Stocks that attracted fund managers in April 2019  Dalal Street Investment JournalIf we look at the March 2019 data, then the energy sector was the one that featured on top of the buying done by the fund managers. However, the story in the ...
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What Makes Berkshire Hathaway Shares Better Than an Actively Managed Mutual Fund?  Motley FoolTo start with, the company is a lot more than Warren Buffett's carefully selected stock portfolio.
Liquidity Scare: NBFC stocks slide on fears of spillover  Economic TimesAny default or downgrades in NBFC space will have a cascading impact on the entire sector.
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4 Best Dimensional Mutual Funds to Invest in Today  NasdaqFounded in 1981, Dimensional Fund Advisor offers investment solutions from different asset classes to institutional and individual investors,.
People Want to Buy Uber Stock  Bloomberg“Uber IPO Is Oversubscribed by Day Two of Roadshow,” it says here, but I would say that Uber Technologies Inc.'s initial public offering was oversubscribed by ...
Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF 'VTI" - Time To Invest?  ETF TrendsThe Vanguard Total Stock Market ETF (VTI) has been in existence since 2001 and is a passively managed index fund that is intended to replicate the ...
Swedes Become World Champions With 100% Stashing Cash in Funds  BloombergSwedes are the world champions in mutual fund saving. In fact, when including the privatized part of the government pension fund system, 100% of working ...
Financial Advisor Industry Leader LPL Financial, An IBD 50 Stock, Is On IBD Breakout Stocks Index  Investor's Business DailyLPL FInancial joined the IBD Breakout Stocks Index as it entered a new buy zone. The financial advisor leader and IBD 50 stock has continued to climb.
Is Shelton Nasdaq-100 Index Direct (NASDX) a Strong Mutual Fund Pick Right Now?  NasdaqAny investors who are searching for Index funds should take a look at Shelton Nasdaq-100 Index Direct (NASDX). NASDX has no Zacks Mutual Fund Rank,.
Top 10 stocks that mutual fund managers bought and sold in March 2019  Moneycontrol.comData for equity flows into mutual funds for March came as a breather after a weak February. An increase in net inflows in equity and income category led to the ...
What India's top three mutual funds bought and sold in March  Economic TimesIndias largest money manager held 1.5 trillion rupees in equities.
Can mutual funds give multibagger returns like stocks?  Economic TimesStocks can be multibaggers. They can offer extraordinary returns in a very short period. Can mutual funds ever do that? This was a question thrown at Rajeev ...
Govt tweaks rules, increases limit to disclose investment in stocks, mutual funds for employees  Economic TimesNew Delhi: The Centre has increased the over 26-year-old monetary limit on disclosure of investment in shares and mutual funds by employees to six months of ...
7 stocks most favoured by mutual funds over last one year  Economic TimesAs the markets hit a speed bump, stocks favoured by mutual funds appear to be safer bets.
Active mutual funds fail to reflect index gains  Economic TimesThe Nifty, which has hit all-time highs for the second time in April, has advanced 12% in the last one year. But these gains are yet to reflect in many mutual funds' ...
What top 5 money managers bought and sold in February  Economic TimesFebruary was the fourth consecutive month of decline in net investment into equity mutual funds.
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Mutual funds shooting themselves in the foot?  Economic TimesWhat if banks take a leaf out of Kotak and HDFC Mutual Funds' decision to direct investors to come another day to get their money instead of paying them on the ...
Mutual Funds increase holding in ‘attractively valued’ oil & gas stocks  Economic TimesMUMBAI: Mutual funds have been adding shares of oil and gas companies such as GAIL, HPCL, BPCL and ONGC over the last few months, encouraged by ...
Mutual funds bet big on these 30 stocks in November; do you own any?  Moneycontrol.comThe Indian equity market rose about 5 percent in November but what was more heartening to see was inflows into mutual funds. Investors pumped Rs 1.4 lakh ...
Mutual funds sell several blue chips stocks, buy mid-caps in March  Business StandardDomestic money managers were seen pruning their holdings in several blue-chip stocks, including Reliance Industries (RIL) and Housing Development Finance ...
27-year-old rule changed: Disclosure limit on MF, stock investment up for bureaucrats  Economic TimesGroup A and B officials had to intimate government if total transaction in shares or MFs exceeded Rs 50K.
Should I increase investments in mutual funds once I have more money to invest?  Economic TimesI am a 19-year-old student. I want to invest Rs 2,500 per month in mutual funds for 7-8 years. Can I increase the investment amount with time—once I have more ...
Here’s a better tool to judge mutual fund performance than simple 1-year, 3-year returns  Economic TimesOne invests in mutual funds to earn potentially higher returns than those in traditional investment products, and I'm sure everyone looks at the one-year, ...
What top mutual funds bought and sold last month  LivemintMumbai: Inflows into Indian equity mutual funds in January were the smallest in two years as heightened market volatility and political uncertainty cooled ...
Check out what top five mutual funds bought & sold during October selloff  Economic TimesNEW DELHI: Mutual funds stood resilient as industry's asset base increased to Rs 22.23 lakh crore in October in spite of a heavy correction in the domestic ...
Why your core equity portfolio should be in index mutual funds  Economic TimesInvestors flock to the performing fund “after” it has beaten the index. Fund selection is not an exact science, and there will be hits and misses.
New SIP investors feel the pain as equity fund returns disappoint  Economic TimesSip by sip: That's how the average Indian had a taste of equities in the past couple of years. But the steady road to riches, which involved monthly mutual fund ...
What India's top three mutual funds bought and sold in February  LivemintMUMBAI: Inflows into Indian equity mutual funds in February were the smallest in more than two years as savers held back investments amid market volatility ...
5 funds that outperformed the recent surge in Nifty returns  Economic TimesFunds that bet on banks and financial services managed to outperform during this period.
Mutual funds may need smart bets on smallcap stocks to beat ETF show  Economic TimesSmallcap stocks could see up to ₹1 lakh cr inflow as fund managers look for potential winners: Analysts.
How stocks picked by mutual funds over 2014 to 2017 have performed  Economic TimesWhile the most wanted stocks of 2014 and 2015 have done well, the recent picks have disappointed.
What India's top three MFs bought and sold in January  Economic TimesStock funds took in a net Rs 6160 crore, the least since January 2017.
Mutual funds garner over Rs 65,000 crore in Jan  Economic TimesMUMBAI: The mutual fund industry added assets worth Rs 65,439 crore in January 2019, taking total assets under management to Rs 23.37 lakh crore.
Debt mutual funds with Zee exposure send investors into a tizzy  Economic TimesMUMBAI: Worries about the prospects of debt mutual funds holding securities of Subhash Chandra's Essel Group entities have resurfaced after Kotak Mutual ...
Mutual funds' exposure to banks hits 3-month low of Rs 1.88 lakh crore in Sept  Economic TimesMutual funds' holding of banking stocks declined by over Rs 21,600 crore to Rs 1.88 lakh crore in September, driven by the correction in equity markets.
Why it is a bad idea to always look for outperformers while investing in mutual funds  Economic TimesOne of the most important features that any investor, wealth adviser or anyone in the financial media looks for in an investment product is its track record in ...
Diversify equity portfolio with international funds  Economic TimesAs a part of diversifying your equity portfolio, wealth managers believe investors should diversify geographically using mutual funds. They can do this by ...
BJP’s Amit Shah has diversified stock investment portfolio; Rahul Gandhi prefers mutual funds  Economic TimesShah held shares worth Rs 17.56 cr as of March 22, while Gandhi has MFs worth Rs 5.19 cr.
How income from stocks and mutual funds are taxed for an individual  Moneycontrol.comCapital gains from transfer of unlisted share are considered as STCG where period of holding is less than or equal to 24 months, and LTCG when holding period ...
Quantum Mutual Fund uses cash pile to buy stocks cheap  Economic TimesQuantum Long Term Equity Value Fund, where value investing is the pronounced fund allocation theme, has brought down the level of cash at its plan to the ...
Three large mutual funds opposed to L&T’s takeover of Mindtree  Economic TimesMUMBAI: Three large mutual funds holding shares of Mindtree are opposed to L&T's hostile takeover attempt of the mid-sized software company.
Should you shift from large-cap mutual funds to index funds?  Economic TimesThe index fund category of mutual fund schemes is slowly gaining traction among investors. The fortunes of index funds are changing as not only are they being ...
Quant-based mutual fund schemes are coming. Should you invest?  Economic TimesMany mutual fund advisors believe quant-based mutual funds are the future of the Indian mutual fund industry.
At least 100 MF schemes own these stocks; that should mean something, right?  Economic TimesDomestic institutional investors have become one of the key market drivers in recent years.
2019 is the year of SIP, says S Naren of ICICI Prudential Mutual Fund  Economic TimesNSE Nifty 50 price-to-earnings ratio reached the highest level of 29.24 on April 2. Does it mean markets are overvalued? Should new investors enter in the ...
Top 30 stocks that fund managers bought & sold in March; do you own any?  Moneycontrol.comData for equity flows into a mutual funds for March came as a breather after a weak February. Increase in net inflows in equity and income category led to the ...
Is it time to invest in mid cap and small cap mutual fund schemes?  Economic TimesMany market pundits believe this is the right time to enter in small cap and mid cap segments.
How your mutual funds played the balancing act during stocks crash  Economic TimesBy Bhavana Acharya The last three months has been a bumpy ride for largecap stocks. The year so far has been unkind to the midcap and smallcap set.
Why stock market volatility is beneficial for mutual fund SIP investors  Economic TimesWhile investing through systematic investment plans, you make more money precisely because the markets are facing volatility.
Top fund houses are busy lapping up PSUs; what’s behind this new-found love  Economic TimesNEW DELHI: India's top three mutual funds, which manage over Rs 9 lakh crore in debt and equity assets, added a number of PSU stocks to their schemes in ...
Sebi issues new format for mutual funds' monthly report  Economic TimesFrom April 2019 onwards, AMCs will have to submit the MCR to Sebi in the new format by the third working day of each month.
Best mutual funds to invest in 2019  Economic TimesEveryone wants to invest in the best mutual funds. In fact, it is the sole reason why many investors keep on postponing their investments forever. Most mutual ...
Best small cap mutual funds to invest in 2019  Economic TimesHere is the monthly update on our recommended small cap mutual fund schemes. We are happy to inform you that there are no changes in the recommendation ...
Shariah-compliant investments through mutual funds  Economic TimesWithin the mutual fund industry, investors have a choice of two equity-oriented schemes and one gold scheme that are shariah compliant.
The dangers of high mutual fund inflows  LivemintMutual funds have put ₹2.4 trillion into markets in the last two years.Equity mutual funds receive ₹8000 crore monthly through SIPs.
Best multi cap mutual funds to invest in 2019  Economic TimesHere's the monthly update on our recommended multi cap mutual funds. In May, there is a small change in the recommendation list. Since Mirae Asset India ...
The road to wealth creation is paved with smart investments  Economic TimesEquity, hands down, is the best asset class to help you create wealth.
Best large cap mutual funds to invest in 2019  Economic TimesLarge cap mutual fund schemes, as the name suggests, invest in stocks of very large companies or stocks with largest market capitalisation.
10 small equity mutual funds that have given very good risk-adjusted returns  Economic TimesMany small-sized funds have delivered handsome risk-adjusted returns. Find out why you should not ignore them.
Sebi seeks to make mutual funds' valuation process fairer  Economic TimesThe Sebi board approved easing of norms for raising of funds through instruments like real estate and infrastructure investment trusts.
Which mutual funds are good to invest Rs 25 lakh for 10 years?  Economic TimesWhich is the best way to invest Rs 25 lakh in a mutual fund. I don't need the money for the next 10 years. I am happy with 12% returns. And what are the funds I ...
These stocks see mutual fund inflows for 8th straight quarter; are they worth a look?  Economic TimesAt least 20 listed stocks on the BSE have been major beneficiaries.
When should you sell your mutual fund schemes? - Stocks and equity mutual funds are different  Economic TimesInvesting in an individual stock and equity mutual fund scheme is different. You must look at various parameters like key ratios while investing in a stock. Hence ...
From Axis to ICICI: Mutual funds lap up private bank stocks ahead of rally  Business StandardDomestic money managers aggressively bought shares of private sector banks in February. Kotak Mahindra Bank and Axis Bank were the two most-bought ...
Why HDFC Bank stock is among the top picks of mutual funds  Business TodayPrivate sector lender HDFC Bank, the third-largest Indian firm by market capitalisation, is among the favourite stocks in the portfolios of mutual funds. Despite ...
Here are 30 stocks that fund managers bought & sold in February  Moneycontrol.comEven the month of February witnessed the lowest inflow in equity mutual funds in the last 2 years. Only Rs 5122 crore of *fresh* inflows took place in equity funds.
Funds lap up select PSU stocks on valuation comfort  Economic TimesHere are five PSU stocks which have got large amount of buying from fund managers in Feb.
SIP is an investing habit that can help you gain. Here's how  Economic TimesSIPs do the job because investing becomes a habit. It gets ingrained in your behaviour patterns.
Fund managers ready to go shopping after sharp correction in stocks  Moneycontrol.comDomestic fund managers are capitalising on the market fall and buying shares as they feel the valuations have become attractive after a sharp correction in the ...
What is Smallcase? Should you invest in stocks via these?  Economic TimesOne invests in the market either by buying individual stocks through a broker or by putting money in equity funds or exchange traded funds. Brokerages are now ...
Why stopping mutual fund SIPs when stock market falls can jeopardise your financial goals  Economic TimesFear has returned to Dalal Street. Caught in a perfect storm of weak macroeconomic numbers, the IL&FS crisis and fear of more defaults, equity markets have ...
MFs used March rally to realign holdings; so what’s the ‘in’ thing this poll season  Economic TimesThe quarter witnessed a deterioration in mutual fund flows into equities.

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