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Silver ETF Hits the Market

The fund trades up 6% in heavy volume on Amex.

Updated from 11:07 a.m. EDT

Silver bells rang on Wall Street Friday as

Barclays Global Investors

launched its highly anticipated

iShares Silver Trust


exchange-traded fund linked to the precious metal.

The ETF opened at $129, and in afternoon trading had jumped more than 6% to $137.05 on volume of more than 2 million shares.

The SLV trades in a similar fashion to the pair of existing gold ETFs, the

StreetTracks Gold Trust


and BGI's own

iShares Comex Gold Trust


. Under the structure, the precious metal is tucked away in a vault while investors buy and sell shares that each represent about 10 ounces of silver.

"If you were not born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you now have an easy way to access the silver market with the first and only silver ETF," says Christine Hudacko, a spokeswoman for BGI.

The ETF had to clear several hurdles before launching, including a long wait for regulatory approval and an attack by the Silver Users Association, a trade group that lobbies on behalf of silver producers and distributors. The group contested the ETF, saying it would make silver illiquid and lead to losses of manufacturing jobs.