An unusual level of stock market volatility has not stopped two banking companies from expanding their equity fund offerings.
Amsouth Bancorp, Birmingham, Ala., has added two funds-Amsouth Select Equity and Amsouth Enhanced Market-to its lineup of 14 investment options.
And Summit Bancorp, Princeton, N.J., launched its first S&P index fund, bringing the total of funds offered by its Pillar Funds family to 18. (Summit also kicked off a high-yield debt fund.)
Officials of both companies' fund operations said that gyrations in the stock market had no bearing on the decision to start the funds, or the timing of their launching. Both companies unveiled their new offerings Sept. 1.
"We have been planning on launching these funds for six months," said Michael Baker, an Amsouth senior executive vice president in charge of its capital management group.
Matthew E. Whitaker, an associate product manager for Summit's Pillar Funds, said, "We don't want to be market timers. There is no opportune time to release one of these into the market."
Mr. Baker agreed, adding that "most banks' mutual fund operations will continue on their current course," regardless of the market's behavior.
This steadfast attitude in the face of market turmoil may be in part because U.S. mutual fund investors have, by and large, been sticking with their funds. Investments related to 401(k) plans, a major component of overall investment, tend to continue automatically, whatever the market conditions.
"Generally, volumes have not fallen off in our shop," Mr. Baker said. "We're not seeing a lot of redemptions."
Amsouth's new Select Equity Fund, a large-cap growth fund, seeks to outperform the Russell 1000 growth index while taking on less risk than that index.
The strategy emphasizes investments in companies that dominate their respective industries and that can maintain earnings growth during difficult economic times, resulting in stronger relative performance when the market is weak or volatile.
The Enhanced Market Fund uses a computer model to select stocks from the S&P 500 with the goal of outperforming the index.
Summit's new Equity Index Fund simply invests in stocks in the S&P 500, Mr. Whitaker said.