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By Murray Coleman

NASDAQ's (NASDAQ:NDAQ) exchange's indexing arm, which has been quite active lately, is bringing out three new commodities-related global benchmarks. 

It may seem like odd timing considering the recent weakness in the areas these new benchmarks address. But at least NASDAQ can't be criticized for chasing hot sectors—although no doubt these have been on the drawing board for quite awhile. 

But a fourth index also announced on Monday tracks a part of the stock market which has increasingly found favor in recent months. Biotech stocks, riding the wave of outperformance by tech in general and posing some of the more defensive characteristics of health care in general, have certainly become a hot topic of late.

The NASDAQ OMX Global Biotechnology Index [Nasdaq: QGBI] is coming out seemingly just in time to tap into that growth. It's a modified market-capitalization-weighted index designed to track the performance of the largest and most liquid companies engaged in the biotechnology sector.

Others include:

  • The NASDAQ OMX Global Coal Index [Nasdaq: QCOL]. Again, it's a modified market-capitalization-weighted index. It's designed to track the performance of the largest and most liquid companies engaged in the exploration, mining and other related activities for coal.
  • The NASDAQ OMX Global Steel Index [Nasdaq: QSTL] is another modified market-capitalization-weighted index. It's designed to track the performance of the largest and most liquid companies engaged in the manufacturing and storage of iron and steel products.
  • The NASDAQ OMX Global Gold & Precious Metals Index [Nasdaq: QGLD]. It's designed to track the performance of the largest and most liquid companies engaged in the gold, silver and other precious metals mining industries.

While hardly new, the global reach of the four new benchmarks help broaden NASDAQ's reach in the market, according to company officials. "These new NASDAQ OMX indexes will help international investors better manage their exposure to these increasingly important global sectors," said NASDAQ OMX Executive Vice President John Jacobs in a statement.

The indexes will be calculated in real time across the combined exchanges and will be disseminated in dollars. The indexes will begin calculating on August 18, 2008, with a value of 250.00, says NASDAQ.

Source: NASDAQ OMX Launches Four New Benchmark Indexes