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Amex Rolls Out China, Dividend ETFs

If you've been stumped for a way to play China or to cash in on dividends, the American Stock Exchange can help you out.

A pair of new exchange-traded funds based on those popular themes started trading today. What's more, the company behind the new ETFs says today's rollout will be followed by 24 more ETF flavors over the next several months.

The PowerShares Golden Dragon Halter USX China Portfolio (PGJ) comprises U.S.-listed companies that derive most of their revenue from China. The fund's two largest holdings are PetroChina (PTR) and China Mobile (CHL), which comprise 12% and 11.5% of the 38-stock portfolio. The ETF is rebalanced quarterly.

PowerShares High-Yield Equity Dividend Achievers Portfolio (PEY) also was launched today. This ETF targets investors seeking to invest in high-yielding companies committed to increasing their dividends. The fund tracks the Mergent Dividend Achievers 50 Index, which tracks the 50 highest-yielding stocks with at least 10 years of consecutive dividend increases.

Financials and utilities comprise the two largest sectors in the ETF's portfolio, with 39.3% and 40.6% of assets, respectively. The fund's largest holding is natural gas supplier Nicor (GAS), at 3% of the portfolio. Nicor sports a yield of 5.1%.

Both ETFs priced this morning at $15. The China ETF last traded at $14.48, while the dividend ETF was down 18 cents on the day to $14.82.

Nearly 100,000 shares of the China ETF have traded today, while more than 700,000 shares of the dividend ETF have changed hands.

The China ETF has an expense ratio of 0.6%, and the dividend ETF sports annual operating expenses of 0.5% of assets.

Powershares President Bruce Bond says he expects the dividend ETF to grow to $1 billion in assets over the next year and the China product to hit $200 million. Based on the funds' pricing Wednesday, the dividend ETF has $11 million in assets right now and the China ETF has $2 million.

Powershares will be facing some stiff competition in its quest to gain market share from established ETF powerhouse Barclays Global Investors. In October, Barclays rolled out its own China-themed ETF, the iShares FTSE/Xinhua China 25 Index (FXI), which tracks companies that trade on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. That ETF has grown to over $409 million in assets since its introduction.

The Powershares dividend ETF will be going head-to-head with the $4.7 billion iShares Dow Jones Select Dividend (DVY), which debuted in November 2003 and tracks the Dow Jones Select Dividend Index. That measure tracks the 50 highest-yielding stocks in the Dow Jones U.S. Total Market Index.

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