Funds tracking broad market indexes are more susceptible to downward pricing trends than socially responsible investing funds, according to Morningstar.

However, Morningsar Analyst Dan Culloton issued a statement this week downplaying the likelihood that recent price rollbacks at Fidelity Investments will lead to an all-out index mutual fund price war.

Fidelity lowered fees earlier this month on its Spartan index fund series in response to competition from low-cost exchange traded funds, which typically charge investors fewer than a basis point per year.

Other index fund providers have since considered retaliatory price reductions on pedestrian investments tracking broad-market indexes, but Culloton says specialty firms, like technology and socially responsible investment (SRI) providers, are unlikely to enter the fray.

For the time being, SRI index providers can rest on their haunches because ETFs have not yet entered their turf, he said. The opposite of true for the Spartan funds, which are competing in an overcrowded category.

Even if Barclays Global Investors were to launch socially responsible ETFs, SRI specialty shops, which have spent years building brand names, are unlikely to reduce fees. "Will the advent of socially responsible ETFs have the same effect on SRI index funds? Not in the near future," Culloton said.

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