From the July 2008 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

Northern Trust Enters the Arena

The ETF marketplace has a newcomer. Northern Trust Global Investments has introduced a lineup of 12 foreign equity exchange-traded funds. The funds will track established global stock market benchmarks. It's the Chicago-based bank's first foray into the ETF marketplace.

The new funds will compete directly with the single-country ETFs offered by Barclays Global Investors. The Barclays iShares country funds mirror MSCI indexes and charge annual expense ratios that range from 0.54 to 0.74 percent. Among the largest iShares country funds in terms of assets, are Japan (EWJ) and Brazil (EWZ). Both ETFs have around $8 billion in them.

Northern Trust has some catching up to do, but it hopes to do it with fund expenses that rival competing international ETFs. The institution's NETS country ETFs will charge expense ratios that range from 0.47 to 0.65 percent.

According to ETFguide.com those costs are in line with the median expense ratio for the 133 international ETFs in its database, which charge 0.52 percent.

Nine of the funds will focus on developed international stock markets, like Australia, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom. Three funds will be centered on emerging market stocks in China, Singapore, and South Africa.

"The Amex is proud to support Northern Trust in bringing their first family of funds into the ETF marketplace," said Scott Ebner, senior vice president of the Amex ETF Marketplace. "These NETS ETFs are linked to established and globally recognized indexes."

The new ETFs are:o NETS AEX-index Fund (The Netherlands) (AEX)o NETS BEL 20 Index Fund (Belgium) (BRU)o NETS Hang Seng Index Fund (Hong Kong) (HKG)o NETS S&P/MIB Index Fund (Italy) (ITL)o NETS FTSE/JSE Top 40 Index Fund (South Africa) (JNB)o NETS FTSE Singapore Straits Times Index Fund (SGT)o NETS Hang Seng China Enterprises Index Fund (SNO)o NETS TOPIX Index Fund (Japan) (TYI)o NETS S&P/ASX 200 Index Fund (Australia) (AUS)o NETS DAX Index Fund (Germany) (DAX)o NETS CAC40 Index Fund (France) (FRC)o NETS FTSE 100 Index Fund (United Kingdom) (LDN)

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Ron DeLegge is the San Diego-based editor of www.etfguide.com.

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