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Exchange Traded Funds ETF

What are exchange traded funds (ETFs)?

ETFs represent shares of ownership in either fund, unit investment trusts, or depository receipts that hold portfolios of common stocks which closely track the performance and dividend yield of specific indexes, either broad market, sector or international.

ETFs give investors the opportunity to buy or sell an entire portfolio of stocks in a single security, as easily as buying or selling a share of stock. They offer a wide range of investment opportunities. While similar to an index mutual fund, ETFs differ from mutual funds in significant ways. Unlike Index mutual funds, ETFs are priced and can be bought and sold throughout the trading day. Furthermore, ETFs can be sold short and bought on margin.

The advantages of ETFs:



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Tax efficiency
ETFs, like index funds in general, tend to offer greater tax benefits because they generate fewer capital gains due to low turnover of the securities that comprise the portfolio. Generally, an ETF only sells securities to reflect changes in its underlying index. Exchange trading of ETFs further enhances their tax efficiency. Investors who want to liquidate shares in an ETF simply sell them to other investors through exchange trading. Because of this unique structure, ETFs are not required to sell securities to meet investor cash redemptions, potentially generating capital gains tax liability for remaining investors. Keep in mind that the sale of an ETF will generate capital gains/losses for the investor liquidating shares.


Lower costs
Expenses can have a significant impact on returns for investors. ETFs, in general, have significantly lower annual expense ratios than other investment products. ETFs are less likely to experience high management fees because they are index-based, not "actively" managed. And, since they trade on an exchange, ETFs are insulated from the costs of having to buy and sell securities to accommodate shareholder purchases and redemptions. Of course, an investor selling ETF shares may realize capital gains or losses, as with common stocks. Purchases or sales of exchange traded funds are subject to brokerage commissions.


ETFs are designed to generally replicate the holdings and correspond to the performance and yield of their underlying index.


Buying and selling flexibility
Because they are exchange traded, ETFs can be:
All day tracking and trading
ETFs are priced and traded throughout the day, and are not restricted to once-a-day trading at the end of the day. And because the pricing of ETFs is continuous during trading hours, investors will always be able to obtain up-to-the-minute share prices from their broker or financial adviser.


Because each ETF is comprised of a basket of securities, it inherently provides diversification across an entire index. Additionally, the expanding universe of ETFs available at the American Stock Exchange offers exposure to a diverse variety of markets, including:
Dividend opportunities
Dividends paid by companies and interest paid on bonds held in an ETF are distributed to ETF holders, less expenses, on a pro rata basis. Of course, not all companies will pay dividends. Based on past performance, few, if any, distributions can be expected from certain ETFs. There may also be opportunities for reinvestment of distributions.


Wide array of investment strategies
Investors can capitalize on the convenience and flexibility of ETFs to pursue a wide variety of investment strategies.

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