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Understanding and Navigating ETFs' Premiums and Discounts

Ben Johnson, CFA (ben.johnson@morningstar.com)

The exchange-traded fund marketplace is littered with a variety of terms and acronyms that have left many investors in want of a user's manual. From time to time, it is worth going back to basics to better understand the ins and outs of ETFs' mechanics to help investors use them to their best advantage. If the fund uses physical replication to track its benchmark (that is, it owns securities, not derivatives), the assets are the component securities (or a sampling thereof) of its benchmark index, any accrued income generated through securities lending, and some cash.