Barclays Global Investors - the giant institutional money management firm in San Francisco - is planning to offer 51 exchange-traded index funds, a lineup that is expected to raise the firm's presence among retail investors and increase competition in a slice of the open-end index fund market.

Barclays will offer funds that invest based on such widely recognized indexes as the S&P 500 and the Russell 2000 as well as indexes which track sectors such as petroleum and non-cyclical consumer stocks. The funds will be traded on the American Stock Exchange and priced throughout the day, unlike traditional mutual funds that are priced only once each day. It is unclear when the firm will introduce the products for sale.

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