Trading involves substantial risk and may result in the loss of your invested/greater that your invested capital, respectively.

    Stock Exchange Market (ETF)

    An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is a type of pooled investment security that operates much like a mutual fund. Typically, ETFs will track a particular index, sector, commodity, or other assets, but unlike mutual funds, ETFs can be purchased or sold on a stock exchange the same way that a regular stock can. An ETF can be structured to track anything from the price of an individual commodity to a large and diverse collection of securities. ETFs can even be structured to track specific investment strategies. The first ETF was the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY), which tracks the S&P 500 Index, and which remains an actively traded ETF today.

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    • An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is a basket of securities that trades on an exchange just like a stock does.
    • ETF share prices fluctuate all day as the ETF is bought and sold; this is different from mutual funds, which only trade once a day after the market closes.
    • ETFs can contain all types of investments, including stocks, commodities, or bonds; some offer U.S.-only holdings, while others are international.
    • ETFs offer low expense ratios and fewer broker commissions than buying the stocks individually.

    Understanding Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)

    An ETF is called an exchange-traded fund because it’s traded on an exchange just like stocks are. The price of an ETF’s shares will change throughout the trading day as the shares are bought and sold on the market. This is unlike mutual funds, which are not traded on an exchange, and which trade only once per day after the markets close. Additionally, ETFs tend to be more cost-effective and more liquid compared to mutual funds.

    An ETF is a type of fund that holds multiple underlying assets, rather than only one like a stock does. Because there are multiple assets within an ETF, they can be a popular choice for diversification. ETFs can thus contain many types of investments, including stocks, commodities, bonds, or a mixture of investment types.

    An ETF can own hundreds or thousands of stocks across various industries, or it could be isolated to one particular industry or sector. Some funds focus on only U.S. offerings, while others have a global outlook. For example, banking-focused ETFs would contain stocks of various banks across the industry.

    An ETF is a marketable security, meaning it has a share price that allows it to be easily bought and sold on exchanges throughout the day, and it can be sold short. In the United States, most ETFs are set up as open-ended funds and are subject to the Investment Company Act of 1940 except where subsequent rules have modified their regulatory requirements. Open-end funds do not limit the number of investors involved in the product.

    Types of ETFs

    Various types of ETFs are available to investors that can be used for income generation, speculation, and price increases, and to hedge or partly offset risk in an investor’s portfolio. Here is a brief description of some of the ETFs available on the market today.

    Passive and Active ETFs

    ETFs are generally characterized as either passive or actively managed. Passive ETFs aim to replicate the performance of a broader index—either a diversified index such as the S&P 500 or a more specific targeted sector or trend. An example of the latter category is gold mining stocks: as of February 18, 2022, there are approximately eight ETFs which focus on companies engaged in gold mining, excluding inverse, leveraged, and funds with low assets under management (AUM).

    Actively managed ETFs typically do not target an index of securities, but rather have portfolio managers making decisions about which securities to include in the portfolio. These funds have benefits over passive ETFs but tend to be more expensive to investors.

    Bond ETFs

    Bond ETFs are used to provide regular income to investors. Their income distribution depends on the performance of underlying bonds. They might include government bonds, corporate bonds, and state and local bonds—called municipal bonds. Unlike their underlying instruments, bond ETFs do not have a maturity date. They generally trade at a premium or discount from the actual bond price.

    Stock ETFs

    Stock (equity) ETFs comprise a basket of stocks to track a single industry or sector. For example, a stock ETF might track automotive or foreign stocks. The aim is to provide diversified exposure to a single industry, one that includes high performers and new entrants with potential for growth. Unlike stock mutual funds, stock ETFs have lower fees and do not involve actual ownership of securities.

    Industry/Sector ETFs

    Industry or sector ETFs are funds that focus on a specific sector or industry. For example, an energy sector ETF will include companies operating in that sector. The idea behind industry ETFs is to gain exposure to the upside of that industry by tracking the performance of companies operating in that sector.

    Commodity ETFs

    As their name indicates, commodity ETFs invest in commodities, including crude oil or gold. Commodity ETFs provide several benefits. First, they diversify a portfolio, making it easier to hedge downturns.

    For example, commodity ETFs can provide a cushion during a slump in the stock market. Second, holding shares in a commodity ETF is cheaper than physical possession of the commodity. This is because the former does not involve insurance and storage costs.

    Currency ETFs

    Currency ETFs are pooled investment vehicles that track the performance of currency pairs, consisting of domestic and foreign currencies. Currency ETFs serve multiple purposes. They can be used to speculate on the prices of currencies based on political and economic developments for a country. They are also used to diversify a portfolio or as a hedge against volatility in forex markets by importers and exporters. Some of them are also used to hedge against the threat of inflation. There’s even an ETF option for bitcoin.

    Inverse ETFs

    Inverse ETFs attempt to earn gains from stock declines by shorting stocks. Shorting is selling a stock, expecting a decline in value, and repurchasing it at a lower price. An inverse ETF uses derivatives to short a stock. Essentially, they are bets that the market will decline.

    When the market declines, an inverse ETF increases by a proportionate amount. Investors should be aware that many inverse ETFs are exchange-traded notes (ETNs) and not true ETFs. An ETN is a bond but trades like a stock and is backed by an issuer such as a bank. Be sure to check with your broker to determine if an ETN is a good fit for your portfolio.

    Leveraged ETFs

    A leveraged ETF seeks to return some multiples (e.g., 2× or 3×) on the return of the underlying investments. For instance, if the S&P 500 rises 1%, a 2× leveraged S&P 500 ETF will return 2% (and if the index falls by 1%, the ETF would lose 2%). These products use derivatives such as options or futures contracts to leverage their returns. There are also leveraged inverse ETFs, which seek an inverse multiplied return.

    How to Buy ETFs

    With a multiplicity of platforms available to traders, investing in ETFs has become fairly easy. Follow the steps outlined below to begin investing in ETFs.

    Find an Investing Platform

    ETFs are available on most online investing platforms, retirement account provider sites, and investing apps like EASTON SWIFT. Most of these platforms offer commission-free trading, meaning that you don’t have to pay fees to the platform providers to buy or sell ETFs.

    However, a commission-free purchase or sale does not mean that the ETF provider will also provide access to their product without associated costs. Some areas in which platform services can distinguish their services from others are convenience, services, and product variety.

    For example, smartphone investing apps enable ETF share purchasing at the tap of a button. This may not be the case for all brokerages, which may ask investors for paperwork or a more complicated situation. Some well-known brokerages, however, offer extensive educational content that helps new investors become familiar with and research ETFs.

    Get started today with commission-free stocks & forex trades