The Securities and Exchange Commission is offering investors a new interactive tool for comparing the costs, risks, investment strategies and past performance of mutual funds using Extensible Business Reporting Language.

The new Mutual Fund Reader tool is available on the SEC's XBRL site. It leverages recent SEC rules that allow mutual funds to voluntarily report information using interactive data in XBRL format.

The SEC approved rule amendments in June 2007 to allow mutual funds to submit risk/return summary information from their prospectuses using interactive data. Since Aug. 20, 2007, 20 mutual funds have voluntarily submitted their information in interactive data format . Additional filers are expected to participate in the coming months.

The SEC has been encouraging more companies to file their financial reports in XBRL format and recently issued the complete set of generally accepted accounting principles encoded in the interactive data format (see SEC Releases GAAP Taxonomy).

"The Mutual Fund Reader is an important, time-saving step to help investors compare various mutual funds at the click of a mouse," said SEC Chairman Christopher Cox (pictured) in a statement. "It will help ordinary investors use mutual fund information quickly to make the best decisions in investing for retirement, college education, health care and other financial needs."

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