UK - London-based exchange traded fund (ETF) specialists, iShares, is to launch its 13th fund, the iShares S&P 500, which it claims to be the first ETF available to UK investors that tracks a US index.

Though officially launched next week, the new fund will begin trading on the London stock exchange tomorrow. There is no minimum investment level and the launch price is set at a hundredth the closing level of the S&P on March 15.

The fund, to be managed by Barclays Global Investors in London, is an open-ended investment company registered in Ireland. Its shares are denominated in dollars but will trade in sterling.

The launch further demonstrates the growth of the ETF market, particularly in Europe, where it follows hot on the heels of the official launch last week of eight new sector ETFs by French management group, Axa Investment Managers.

The Axa range, called EasyETFs, are quoted on Euronext in Paris and track the Dow Jones Euro STOXX indices family in the banking, energy, healthcare, assurance, media, technology, telecoms and utilities distribution sectors.

The European ETF market is now worth some US$6bn (€6.8bn), with the number of ETFs in Europe now standing at 91.