Two major index providers are launching new Islamic equity indexes which could be the basis for a future exchange traded fund (ETF). Both MSCI Barra  and Standard and Poor’s are moving into the Shariah-compliant benchmarks, meaning they follow the beliefs of Islam. Matt Hougan for Seeking Alpha reports these are not new concepts, the Dow introduced an index in 1999 and FTSE in 2000.  There has been a growing demand from oil-rich investors in the Middle East, which has prompted MSCI and S&P to enter the field.

MSCI plans to launch in July 2007 with a Global Islamic Indices series and S&P will expand on the family it created last year.  The indexes screen companies involving alcohol, tobacco, pork-related products, financial services, gambling and pornography; however the two providers use different screening methods.

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