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What is an Active Index Fund?

Most index funds are known for using a completely passive strategy to track an index, but some take a more active approach. Some mutual funds track an index by passively using algorithms to buy the shares necessary to build a portfolio which closely replicates an index. Such a fund will have low turnover, will only rebalance slightly based on the market cap or other criteria set forth in the prospectus, and will basically ride out all of the ups and downs of the index in a blind faith for the efficient market hypothesis. Continue reading...

What is the difference between active and passive money management?

What is the difference between active and passive money management?

The debate on whether active or passive management is better for investors has polarized many advisors and theorists for years. There are two schools of thought when it comes to long-term investing. One basically states that you should determine a proper allocation of asset classes for yourself, buy index funds to reflect each particular asset class, and possibly rebalance the portfolio periodically. This basically means “set it and forget it,” and the investor must be willing to ignore fluctuations in the markets and maintain a faith in an Efficient Market. Continue reading...

Who is a commodity trading advisor (CTA)?

Who is a commodity trading advisor (CTA)?

A Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA) is registered with the National Futures Association (NFA) to manage client funds in a managed futures account (MFA) or other pooled investment such as a hedge fund or commodity pool in which the primary instruments being used are commodity futures, swaps, and other commodities derivatives. CTAs are a particular type of money manager specializing in commodities. Commodities Trading Advisors (CTAs) are licensed to manage commodity pools, managed futures accounts, and commodity-based hedge funds on behalf of clients. Continue reading...

What are index futures?

What are index futures?

Index futures are futures contracts written on an index in which a large position can be held with a relatively small margin requirement. Index futures can be used for hedging or speculation. A "good faith" initial margin deposit (also called a performance bond) of a fraction of the contract size is all that is required to hold a substantial position, with a notional value worth significantly more than the amount invested. Continue reading...

What is the MSCI ACWI Index?

What is the MSCI ACWI Index?

The MSCI ACWI is the “All Country World Index” - providing the broadest measure for global stocks. The MSCI ACWI tracks performance of stocks from all over the world - literally. It includes all markets and gives the broadest picture for how world stocks are performing. Developed markets account for some 75% of total global output, so the MSCI ACWI includes many countries that are not necessarily palatable contributors to world growth. Continue reading...

What are Mutual Funds?

What are Mutual Funds?

Mutual funds are managed portfolios of stocks and bonds, where the portfolio manager uses pooled investor funds to manage the portfolio. In the U.S., the first mutual fund was created in 1924 when three investors in Boston pooled their money and formed the Massachusetts Investors’ Trust. The essence behind Mutual Funds today is the same – a pool of money is collected from a number of investors and then professionally managed. Continue reading...

What is index investing?

What is index investing?

The main idea behind index investing is that markets are efficient, and, especially with the low fees of indexed funds, it can be a winning strategy. Index investing is a simple strategy of choosing the indices which reflect your investment beliefs and offer diversification, buying mutual funds or ETFs that track these indices, and holding them for a long period of time. The last 10 years have seen the propagation of index funds for any specific market, industry, country, commodity, etc. Continue reading...

What is a market-on-close order?

What is a market-on-close order?

A market-on-close order is used to execute a trade at the last possible moment before the market closes for the day. This may be an order to sell or buy. Market-on-close orders are instructions to execute a trade just before the market closes for the day, at the best price available at the time. The exchange will actually settle all of the market-on-close orders at the same price. Why would an investor enter this kind of trade order? Continue reading...

What is a commodity index?

What is a commodity index?

Commodity indexes are also called commodity price indexes, and they are informational services which reflect the price action in a designated commodity or basket of commodities. Indexes are often tracked by mutual funds or ETFs, and these can be confused with the actual index. Indexes are computed and published by market research firms. They can serve as benchmarks against which the performance of a specific asset or an investment portfolio can be compared, or they can serve as the model that index funds seek to emulate. Continue reading...

How Do I Find the Best Mutual Fund?

How Do I Find the Best Mutual Fund?

It requires a great deal of due diligence, but investors should understand that past performance is not indicative of future performance. Focus on experience. In the stock market, as with most things in life, hindsight is 20/20. There are countless lists on the internet with titles like “The Best Mutual Fund Families” and “50 Winning Mutual Funds.” It is important to understand that the names on those lists are a function of hindsight and not foresight. Continue reading...

What is MSCI?

MSCI Inc. is a company that is best known for its global indices. MSCI also provides research and pricing capabilities to institutional investors. MSCI was formerly a branch of Morgan Stanley, but grew to be so big that they spun off and formed the independent company, MSCI Inc. Perhaps its best known and used index is the MSCI EAFE, which tracks broad performance of Europe, Asia, and the Far East. Continue reading...

How are Mutual Funds Classified?

Mutual funds can be described, categorized, and screened using the various criteria involved in their construction and maintenance. When investors look for mutual funds, it may be useful to incorporate a mutual fund screener from a website. There are many criteria by which you can classify a mutual fund, such as investment style, market capitalizations of stocks in the fund, the industry sector or region in which the fund focuses, as well as the size of the expenses or type of sales load. Is the fund geared toward the short-term or long-term? Does it have a high turnover ratio? Continue reading...

What can I find out about hedge funds?

What can I find out about hedge funds?

Hedge funds have historically been very secretive. They still mainly fall under Regulation D and private-placement laws, but their reporting requirements have been slightly expanded after the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010. Now, they are a little more transparent, but not fully. Up until the Dodd-Frank Act, it was basically impossible to know what hedge funds were investing in and who was involved. Hedge fund managers and their investment banks were under no obligation to report the holdings, and they generally avoided leaking any information about their market positions for fear of damaging their advantages. Continue reading...

What is a price-weighted index?

What is a price-weighted index?

When creating an index, it must be decided what criteria will affect the value of the index, and in the case of a price-weighted index, the only consideration is the price of shares. A price-weighted index is created by adding up the individual price per share of the companies included in the index and dividing by the number of companies. Essentially what you've done is arrived at the average price per share of the companies included in the index. Continue reading...

What is a market index?

What is a market index?

Market indexes attempt to give an overall picture of the behavior of the market by tracking the performance of a representative sample of stocks. Different indexes have different focuses. The Russell 3000 samples more of the smaller companies than the S&P 500. Index mutual funds and ETFs track specific indexes but, as you’ll notice in their disclosures, it is impossible to invest directly in an index; they only follow the index by investing in as many of the companies as possible and minimizing lag as much as they can. Indexes give numerical values for the progressive fluctuations in the price action for specific sets of stocks. Continue reading...

Where can I find information about hedge funds and their performance?

Where can I find information about hedge funds and their performance?

Not all hedge funds are obligated to disclose their holdings, trades, or performance. About half of them are, however, and their performance can be found online through Morningstar and other sources. This information may not be as detailed as you would like, and you may try other means. Since the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010, more information about hedge funds is available to the public. This does not mean that all the information you seek will be readily available, however, and there are many hedge funds that do not make their information public. Continue reading...

How to use the Accumulative Swing Index in trading?

How to use the Accumulative Swing Index in trading?

The Accumulative Swing Index (ASI) is a trendline representing the running total of an oscillator called the Swing Index, first described by Webb Wilder in his book, “New Concepts in Technical Trading Systems.” The Swing Index itself compares the price data from the current period and the preceding period to quantify the positive or negative “swing,” which can be understood as a measure of directional velocity in a price. Continue reading...

How to use the Arms Index (TRIN) in trading

How to use the Arms Index (TRIN) in trading

Richard Arms invented the analysis tool that bears his name in 1967. The Arms Index, a technical analysis indicator, is also called the TRIN (short for “Trading Index”) because it seeks to indicate overbought or oversold conditions by serving as an index of trading activity relative to price. The Arms index is calculated using readily available data from major indexes such as the S&P 500 or NASDAQ. The ratio of the number of advancing stocks (stocks whose prices are increasing) to the number of declining stocks (stocks whose prices are decreasing) is computed to give us the A/D Ratio, a market breadth indicator that is one way of viewing the daily breadth of a security. The Advance/Decline Ratio uses the same numbers as the Advance/Decline Line but presents them as a ratio instead. The AD Ratio is sometimes more useful than an AD Line, including in instances where comparing AD for different indexes which have different metrics; the ratio is the standardization with which comparisons can be made. Continue reading...

What is market efficiency?

What is market efficiency?

Market efficiency describes the degree to which relevant information is integrated into the price of a security. With the prevalence of information technology today, markets are considered highly efficient; most investors have access to the same information with prices and industry news, updated instantaneously. The Efficient Market Hypothesis stems from this idea. Efficient markets are said to have all relevant information priced-in to the securities almost immediately. High trading volume also makes a market more efficient, as there is a high degree of liquidity for buyers and sellers, and the spread between bid and ask prices narrows. Continue reading...

What is the House Price Index (HPI)?

The House Price Index (HPI) tracks average prices of homes using data from sales and refinancing, tracking the data for the same residential properties over many years. The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) publishes it quarterly and relies on data from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The HPI is an important index for the real estate and mortgage industry, as well as the economy as a whole. It uses information from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac about home sale prices and the refinancing value of homes, tracking the sales and refinancing prices of homes in the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac databases, all the way back to 1978. They do this using a weighted repeat-sales method. It is published quarterly by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). Continue reading...