'iShares' is explained in detail and with examples in the Investments edition of the Herold Financial Dictionary, which you can get from Amazon in Ebook or Paperback edition.
Today iShares are traded on stock exchanges the world over. This iShares proves to be the biggest ETF issues in both the United States and the world as a whole. Most every iShares fund actually tracks the performance of either a stock market index or a bond market index. The London Stock Exchange, the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange, the Toronto Stock Exchange, the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and the Australian Securities Exchange, along with various other Asian and European stock markets, all trade listed iShares funds.
There are hundreds of iShares issued funds. While many of them cover large and small indexes in the United States and internationally, others deal with specialized sectors or commodities. Naturally they have funds on an enormous variety of indexes, like the Dow Jones, NYSE Composite, and the Russell 3000 in the United States markets. These cover large cap, small cap, and mid cap indexes of stocks ranked according to their dollar amounts of market capitalization.
iShares also has funds that cover a wide variety of sectors, ranging from energy funds and industrial funds, to financials funds and health care funds, to consumer staples and discretionary funds, to materials funds and technology funds, to telecommunications funds and utilities funds. Besides this, they also offer a good variety of real estate index funds for both international and United States real estate.
The iShares listed funds cover a wide range of developed and developing international indexes, such as China, India, Brazil, Peru, Chile, Israel, Indonesia, Mexico, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Poland, Japan, and emerging market index funds. Beyond this, they offer index funds for all of the various major regions of the world, including Africa and Middle East funds, the Americas funds, European funds, and Asian funds.
They count various global sectors of index funds in their stable too, such as a nuclear energy index fund, a global clean energy index fund, and a global timber and forestry index fund. Where bonds are concerned, iShares provides a good variety of index funds based on treasuries, government credit, corporate credit, municipal bonds, mortgages, and global bonds.
They have specialty index funds like dividend stocks funds and socially responsible corporation funds. Finally, in the category of commodities, iShares offers two especially popular funds, the Gold Trust fund that trades under the symbol of IAU, and the Silver Trust fund, that trades as SLV.
iShares originally arose as a collaboration between investment bank Morgan Stanley and fund manager Barclays Global Investors in the 1990’s. By the year 2000, Barclays decided to launch a major expansion of the ETF market. To this effect, they started up and marketed more than forty new funds that they branded under the name of iShares. The other funds that Morgan Stanley and Barclays had launched as WEBS were soon renamed iShares as part of the broader effort.