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Investment screens – Many faiths and beliefs

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Investment portfolios geared to companies’ social policies have grown rapidly and represent a broad range of ideologies, The New York Times reported Feb. 11.

Portfolios screened for social responsibility grew to $1.5 trillion from in 1999 from $529 billion in 1997, mostly in private stock accounts, according to the Social Investment Forum, a trade group that surveyed several hundred investment firms, the Times said.

Socially responsible funds are more widely available than ever, the Times said, with Ford Motor, Hewlett-Packard and Gap and other companies, for example, adding the $1.4 billion Domini Social Equity Fund in the last year as a choice in their retirement funds.

“It has seasoned as a concept and that makes managing one more practical, as opposed to it being an issue du jour,” John Brennan, chief executive of Vanguard, told the Times. “We come out with products that we expect to endure forever.”

Socially responsible funds now are geared to many faiths and beliefs, the Times said.

Three companies, for example, now offer Muslims mutual funds or customized stock accounts that shun banks because charging interest contradicts Islamic principles, while a fund for Christian Scientists won’t invest in firms that sell alcohol, tobacco or pornography or own casinos or have ties to the performing of abortions.

There also are funds for Catholics, Lutherans and Seventh-day Adventists.

For full story, go to The New York Times.

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