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Morningstar Expands Mutual Fund Categories; Adds Asset Class

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Morningstar has added global real estate and currency to its list of mutual fund categories, and added “alternatives” to its list of broad asset classes, the company announced August 5. The changes are effective as of August 5 for Morningstar’s Web-based products, and will be rolled out by the end of August for its other products.

Vehicles in the global real estate category–which previously were in the Speciality-Real Estate category, part of the U.S. stock asset class–must have at least 40% of its holdings in non-U.S. real estate securities; as of June 30, 2008, Morningstar counted 45 mutual funds and 11 ETFs. This category is now in the International Stock asset class.

The currency fund category includes funds that invest in both U.S. and foreign currencies through a variety of investing instruments; there were eight mutual funds and 26 ETFs in the category as of June 30.

The currency category is part of Morningstar’s newest broad asset class, called Alternative, joining U.S. Stock, International Stock, Taxable Bond, Municipal Bond, and Balanced. In addition to Currency, the other categories in the Alternative class are Long-Short, Precious Metals, and Bear Market.

Morningstar’s Category Classifications methodology can be viewed at