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How to Choose the Right ETF for Your Online Investment Portfolio

As with mutual funds, one of the toughest things for online investors interested in Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) is finding the right ones amid the hundreds of choices out there. But as with mutual funds, online screeners can help you scour through the universe of ETFs and find the ones that fit your needs. The following list gives you a representative sampling:

  • ETF Screen: This particular site allows you to search for an ETF by using a keyword or by selecting a type of ETF, such as those that track bonds or stocks. Searching by keyword is especially handy if you’re looking to invest in a somewhat offbeat type of stock, commodity, or part of the world.

  • ETFZone: ETFZone provides an advanced ETF screener that lets you find ETFs based on their size and style (such as large-cap, value, or growth) and also by short-term and long-term returns.

  • ETFdb: ETFdb is another online system that helps you pinpoint just the right ETF for you. You can search ETFs based on a number of criteria, including the all-important expense ratio. The site shows you how many ETFs make the cut as you tweak your requirements.

  • ETFGuide: ETFGuide is a useful site that provides breaking news and developments in the ETF world. It’s a good place to check for new ETFs or find out about ETFs that are being closed because they failed to attract enough investors to make them viable.

  • IndexUniverse: IndexUniverse isn’t as galactic as it might sound, but it’s still a great resource for investors interested in ETFs. The site provides news and information connected to investing in indexes. A big part of the site’s focus is on ETFs.

  • Morningstar: Yes, Morningstar does ETFs, too. This section of the site provides a complete screening tool, with detailed search capabilities that help you quickly find the ETF that passes all your criteria.

    Some investors seek ETFs that track specific asset classes or industries. Morningstar makes it easy to find them. From the screener, select the industry or asset class you hope to invest in from the Morningstar Category drop-down list. You can also search for the industry’s name by using ETFDesk.

  • USATODAY.com’s ETF Screener: This screener helps you narrow the overwhelming world of ETFs by zeroing in on those investments that meet your standards.

  • Online brokers: The big players often provide tools that help you find the right ETFs for you. For instance, TD AMERITRADE offers a site that studies your investment objectives and suggests ETFs that might help get you there. You need an account to use the system, though.

  • ETF providers’ Web sites: The largest ETF providers—iShares, Vanguard, and State Street—provide very detailed information about their families of funds.

    Don’t assume that these are just worthless promotional sites. They’re well organized and make it easy to find what you’re looking for. You can find some interesting features on these sites, including State Street’s Correlation Tracker, which can tell you which ETFs have a low correlation with any other ETF or stock you enter.

    Investments are said to have low correlations with each other when they don’t move in lockstep with one another. Buying ETFs with low correlations is attractive because the investments can lower your portfolio’s total risk.

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