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How to Use the Data Section of IndexFunds.com

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Since the performance data on this site was recently updated, we thought now might be a good time to post a primer on how to use the handy data tools and screeners on IndexFunds.com.

To get to our data splash page, click 'Data' on the top navigation bar on any page - as you can see we have data on index funds, exchange-traded funds, and the indexes themselves.

As an example, let's first walk through how to use the index screener tool by clicking on 'Indexes' on the Data Central page. This takes us to the homepage of the index screener, which allows users to winnow down the index universe to find specific benchmarks. Users can sift indexes by asset class, or by returns over a particular period. After the inputs have been selected, a list of matching indexes can then be viewed by clicking on the 'Screen' button further down the page. (The index screener default lists all indexes, so to view a list of every index simply click 'Screen.')

Let's say an investor is interested in indexes that track domestic small-capitalization stocks. Click and check the 'Small Cap' box under 'Categories,' then click 'Screen' to view a list of all small-cap benchmarks - here is a link to that page.

As we can see, all small-cap indexes are listed along with their performance over various periods. Currently, these performance data points have been updated as of 1/31/2003: 1-month, 3-month, year-to-date (YTD), and 1-year returns. Annualized performance data (3-year, 5-year, and 10-year returns) is currently as of the end of 2002, or 12/31/2002.

Now that we have a list of all small-cap indexes, it's possible to further sort them by column by clicking on a hot-linked data point at the top of any column - for example our small-cap indexes can be sorted by their category (growth, value, blend, etc.). All index names are also hot-linked, so click on any index name to view a detail page that shows more information on any particular index. Let's use the most popular small-cap index, the Russell 2000, as an example by clicking on it - you should end up here.

On the detail page for the Russell 2000 index we see a short description of the index and more comprehensive performance information. A handy list of index funds and ETFs that track this index is also available - click on any fund name to get to the detail page for that fund or ETF. For example, click on the iShares Russell 2000 to see more information about this ETF - you should end up here. Notice that on each ETF or fund detail page the tracking index is listed and hot-linked. This makes it possible to easily compare various funds that track a particular index.

We hope this primer serves as a useful introduction to our data screeners. We set them up to be user-friendly, so with a little digging you should be able to learn more about various indexes and the funds that track them.