Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Merk funds offers currencies for all

BOSTON (Reuters) - Money manager Axel Merk has a proposition for average investors: play the currency markets like a hedge fund for a mere $2,500.

Normally the world's foreign exchange markets -- where dollars, euros and yen exchange hands at lightning speed and in enormous sums -- are off limits to people who are saving a few hundred dollars a week for retirement or college tuition.

But on Wednesday, Merk -- a computer scientist turned asset manager with a growing reputation for bringing currencies to Main Street investors -- will launch his third fund that will be stocked with the world's biggest and most liquid currencies.

The Merk Absolute Return Currency Fund will join the four-year-old Merk Hard Currency Fund and the one-year-old Merk Asian Currency Fund as part of the Merk Mutual Funds' lineup.

"This fund will allow the public to have access to the forex markets," Merk said in a telephone interview.

"The main goal is to offer true diversification with a mix of currencies that can go long or short," Merk said, describing the portfolio as something for investors who want to own more than stocks and bonds.

Investors will be able to access the fund through the Internet, brokerages such as Fidelity and Charles Schwab (SCHW.O), and through financial advisors.

The new fund will share characteristics of the two existing funds: it will never use leverage or borrowed money to make returns grow faster and it will make long-term allocations, not minute by minute calls, Merk said.