By Heather Bell
On Monday, Northern Trust launched another three of its NETS (Northern Trust Exchange-Traded Shares) products, bringing its total lineup to nine exchange-traded funds. The newest funds are the:
- NETS FTSE/JSE Top 40 Index Fund (AMEX: JNB)
- NETS S&P/MIB Index Fund (AMEX: ITL)
- NETS FTSE Singapore Straits Times Index Fund (AMEX: SGT).
The funds track the major local indexes for the South African, Italian and Singapore stock markets, respectively.
Northern Trust is in the process of rolling out a series of ETFs that track popular local indexes for a wide range of foreign countries. The other NETS currently trading cover Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan and the United Kingdom.
JNB-the South Africa fund-charges 0.65% in annual expenses, while all the other ETFs in the NETS lineup charge 0.47%.
There are a variety of NETS still in registration, many of them covering foreign markets. Relatively soon, we may very well see ETFs tracking the local market indexes for the likes of Belgium, Ireland, Israel, Malaysia, the Netherlands and Russia, among other countries.
The funds are, by and large, directly competing with iShares from Barclays Global Investors, which track the MSCI country indexes. Those funds all have expense ratios that are 0.51% or higher, and the iShares MSCI South Africa Index Fund (NYSE: EZA), specifically, charges an expense ratio of 0.68%.
The NETS offer lower expense ratios and locally recognized indexes, while iShares offers a standardized methodology MSCI index, established liquidity and subsequently higher price points. It will be interesting to see what kind of assets the new NETS attract in the coming months.