Exchange-traded funds entering new phase of growth

The headlines about exchange-traded funds suggest there are no limits to the growth of these low-cost, easily traded alternatives to mutual funds.

Among the recent developments: ETFs have attracted at least $100 billion in new cash for each of the past six years, growing at a far more rapid pace than traditional mutual funds. ETF assets have doubled over the past three years to $1.4 trillion, with one study projecting they'll hit $3.5 trillion by 2016. ETFs have recently begun to appear as investment options in 529 college-savings plans and 401(k)s.

Yet obstacles are beginning to appear. It has become more difficult for fund companies to launch ETFs that are significantly different or lower-cost than what's already on the market.

"We're close to a tipping point in terms of numbers," says Todd Rosenbluth, director of ETF research at S&P Capital IQ. Continue reading "Exchange-traded funds entering new phase of growth"

Futures flat as more retailers post earnings

Stock futures are relatively flat ahead of the release of the latest data on consumer sentiment and after a mixed bag of earnings from retailers.

Dow Jones industrial futures are down 9 points to 13,216. The broader S&P futures have given up 1.2 points to 1,411.90. Nasdaq futures are up 2.75 points to 2,766.25.

The University of Michigan releases its monthly consumer sentiment index just before 10 a.m. Eastern time Friday. Economists expect a slight decline. Continue reading "Futures flat as more retailers post earnings"

Stocks mixed as American manufacturing slows

(RTTNews) - After ending the previous session sharply higher, stocks showed a lack of direction over the course of the trading day on Monday. The major averages bounced back and forth across the unchanged line before ending the session mixed.

While the major averages all moved to the upside going into the close, the Dow remained stuck in the red. The Dow edged down 8.70 points or 0.1 percent to 12,871.39, while the Nasdaq rose 16.18 points or 0.6 percent to 2,951.23 and the S&P 500 crept up 3.35 points or 0.3 percent to 1,365.51. Continue reading "Stocks mixed as American manufacturing slows"