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Fund Spy

Our New ETF Screener Narrows the Field

Search the exchange-traded fund universe quickly and easily.

It's easy to lose your bearings in the rapidly expanding exchange-traded fund universe. Barely a week goes by without word of new ETF launches or filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. In early June, for example, Barclays Global Investors' iShares family filed a preliminary prospectus for a fund tracking a new Russell Microcap Index. Meanwhile, PowerShares Capital Management prepared to introduce eight sector ETFs and sought SEC approval for three more dividend-focused ETFs (the firm already offers one). To help navigate this restless terrain, Morningstar recently launched a compass of sorts. If you haven't already taken our new ETF Screener for a cruise, here's an introductory tour.

It's a pretty simple tool. It allows investors to sift through the 165 currently available ETFs by asset class, category, expense ratio, fund family, performance, or any combination of those criteria.

If you are searching for a specific kind of ETF you can narrow the field down quickly. Let's say you're interested in a financial sector ETF. First you select "Specialty Domestic" on the Fund Group drop-down menu; then "Specialty-Financial" in the Morningstar Category box. As of June 13, 2005, that search winnows your choices to five ETFs. You can add a cost screen by selecting one of the ranges in the Expense Ratio field. Adding "Less than or equal to 0.30%" to your criteria leaves you with two choices:  Financial Select Sector SPDR (XLF) and Vanguard Financials VIPERs (VFH). You'd get similar results by picking "Specialty-Technology" instead of "Specialty-Financial" in the Morningstar Category box and left the other settings alone:  Technology Select Sector SPDR (XLK) and Vanguard Information Technology VIPERs (VGT) would be the only ETFs left standing.