E*TRADE to Rebate Fund Fees: Online broker E*Trade announced plans to rebate half of the fees that it usually collects from its mutual fund shareholder customers to lure investors.

E*Trade said that rebating will begin by the end of the year. The company said that the semiannual rebate will be available to all customers regardless of asset size; however, fund shareholders have to maintain any account minimums and purchase requirements established by individual fund companies.

The company estimated that a 0.20 percent-per-year rebate on a $500,000 mutual fund portfolio would mean a $1,000 rebate to an investor.

Study says Gen X Investors Behave Like their Parents: When it comes to investing behavior, Generation X - the 52 million Americans born between 1967 and 1981 - aren’t so different from their parents, according to a study by New York Life Investment Management LLC.

According to the report, 82 percent of Gen Xers save regularly for retirement, compared with 83 percent of baby boomers (age 37 to 54) and 76 percent of non-retired “matures” (age 55 to 70). Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of Gen Xers rank family above career, wealth and leisure, as do 64 percent of boomers and 52 percent of matures, according to the NYLIM Generations Survey.

Health considerations rank second among all three segments, with 10 percent of Gen Xers, 25 percent of boomers and 34 percent of matures identifying “health” as most important. The survey polled 1,529 investors (more than 500 in each demographic segment) between the ages of 22 and 70, with investable assets of at least $50,000.

College Savings Iowa Expands Investment Lineup: The College Savings Iowa 529 college savings plan has expanded its investment lineup from four to 12 options. Investors may now choose from eight individual portfolios and four age-based savings tracks. The new options, available this month, will maintain the same 0.65 percent expense ratios as College Savings Iowa’s existing portfolios.

“We recently took a close look at our investment offerings and determined that we needed to offer a broader array of investments for those who desire the flexibility of managing their own investment strategy,” Iowa state treasurer Michael Fitzgerald said.

The plan, managed by the Vanguard Group, has added three new portfolios - the Conservative Income Portfolio (80 percent bonds, 20 percent short-term securities), the Bond Index Portfolio (100 percent bonds), and the Money Market Portfolio (100 percent short-term securities).

College Savings Iowa’s age-based savings tracks have also been modified to be more clearly differentiated and to provide a new, more conservative track. For example, the plan’s Track A now consists of a 100 percent equity allocation up to age 10, which proceeds to an 80 percent equities and 20 percent bonds allocation for ages 11 through 15.

Schwab says Independent Advisors See Positive Investment Outlook: Nearly two-thirds of independent investment advisors believe that economic conditions are improving, according to a poll of 174 advisors conducted by Schwab Institutional.

For the next six months, 56.9 percent of advisors see a positive market outlook, 35 percent were “neutral” or “uncertain,” and 3.4 percent see a negative outlook. Advisors are even more optimistic over the long haul: For the next five years, 81 percent have a positive outlook, 15 percent were neutral or uncertain, and less than 1 percent were negative, Schwab reported.

Only 27 percent of advisors believe that “government action” has improved confidence, while 31.6 percent disagreed and 39.1 percent were uncertain. Even fewer (18.4 percent) said that the Wall Street research settlement would improve confidence; 34.5 percent disagreed and 42 percent were uncertain.

The vast majority (93 percent) said that an economic upturn would increase the likelihood of their clients increasing their investment activity, followed by international political stability (69 percent) and the opinions of investment gurus, like Warren Buffett (32.2 percent). Nineteen percent cited access to stock research designed for clients, while 14.9 percent cited access to credible, independent research, and 12.6 percent cited public evaluation of research analysts’ performance.

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