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This article appeared in the December 2011 ASX Investor Update email newsletter. To subscribe to this newsletter please register with the MyASX section or visit the About MyASX page for past editions and more details.

Mine the ASX website's education resources for a head start to 2012.

From ASX

Many investors buy shares in January as part of a New Year resolution to invest, or to add to portfolios as the calendar year begins. If you are buying shares for the first time, or want to learn more about shares and other listed products, take advantage of the Australian Securities Exchange's free online courses and other education resources over the holiday period.

ASX Education produces independent, balanced educational information for all types of investors, across different media. Best of all, you can access this information via the ASX website - when and where you want, at your own pace. All you need is an internet connection and the will to become a more knowledgeable investor.

Here are six ideas to help:

1. Do an ASX online course

ASX online courses cover shares, interest-rate securities, warrants and instalments, exchange traded funds, options and futures. The shares course has 11 modules, each taking 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Topics covered include: What is share; How to invest; Risk and benefits of shares; What to consider in an investment; and How to buy and sell shares. Simple summaries and quizzes in each module make learning fast, easy and enjoyable.

After doing the shares course, consider the ASX interest rate securities course, which is especially popular with long-term investors who want more predictable income through ASX-listed bonds or hybrid securities that have fixed or floating interest rates. More companies are expected to launch interest-rate securities in 2012, so it is a good time to learn about this market.

ASX has launched an online ETF course and has an online options course.

2. Take advantage of ASX technology

Tens of thousands of investors have downloaded the ASX iPhone Application since its release in late June, making it one of Australia's most popular finance and investment Apps. You can preview and download the ASX iPhone App here, via iTunes.

ASX launched the free App to help people access sharemarket data via their iPhone, extend the ASX website's reach, and provide another useful information service for share investors, with real time alerts delivered to investors - effectively providing a way of keeping the sharemarket in your pocket.

3. Watch an ASX video

ASX has a range of educational videos for those who want a quick snapshot of different ASX-listed products and key investment concepts. The videos feature ASX experts on topics ranging from dividends, yields and price-earnings multiples to commodities, self managed super funds (SMSFs) and futures. Each runs for a few minutes.

The new ASX Charting Video shows how to make the most of the ASX website's charting tool.

And don't miss ASX's new Corporate Profile series, which provides a short video interview to help companies inform investors. Many of these profiles are for small and medium-size companies.

Each three-minute video usually features a chief executive who explains their background and experience, and gives an overview of their company's business and growth plans. This helps investors put a "face" to companies and learn more about those running the company on a day-to-day basis, in a simple, user-friendly format.

4. Catch up on ASX Investor Hour videos

Listen to some of the market's top commentators and researchers outline their investment views. Recent videos include:

Nothing beats listening to an ASX presentation in person, but podcasts are the next best thing. You can hear the audio from the presentation and even watch the accompanying slides.

5. Visit the ASX Charting Library

Technical analysis, or charting as it is commonly called, has become more popular in recent years. In years past there was a big distinction between chartists who study share price patterns to buy and sell shares, and fundamental investors who use company information, such as balance sheets, to make decisions. These days more investors use technical and fundamental analysis to make decisions.

The ASX Charting Library covers more than 20 key charting topics and is a great place to start for investors who want to learn technical analysis basics. Learning about trendlines, support and resistance, Bollinger bands, relative-strength indicators, and candlestick charting, may not be everyone's idea of a relaxing summer read. But the information can help with investment decisions on what to buy and sell - and when.

6. Get ready for 2012

Make sure you sign up to the ASX Keep Me Posted service to learn about forthcoming ASX events in 2012. Thousands of investors attended the ever-popular ASX Investor Hour monthly lunchtime series in capital cities this year to hear from market experts. Other investors take advantage of ASX Webinars to listen to presenters and ask questions in real time.

If you really want to get serious about investing, register for the ASX Public Sharemarket Game between January 25 and February 15, or ASX Schools Sharemarket Game between February 9 and February 29. With a hypothetical $50,000 to invest, you can create your own share portfolio and learn what it is like to invest in real time - without risking a cent. ASX Sharemarket Games are one of the world's great sharemarket games, so take advantage of this free resource.

Finally, if you want to buy shares in 2012 you need to decide how to do it. Should you use a no-advice or full-service broker, or financial planner? Use the Find a Broker feature on the ASX website to search for a capital city or regional firm that can meet your investment needs. This service simply acts as a directory; your information is not provided to the firm.

The views, opinions or recommendations of the author in this article are solely those of the author and do not in any way reflect the views, opinions, recommendations, of ASX Limited ABN 98 008 624 691 and its related bodies corporate ("ASX"). ASX makes no representation or warranty with respect to the accuracy, completeness or currency of the content. The content is for educational purposes only and does not constitute financial advice. Independent advice should be obtained from an Australian financial services licensee before making investment decisions. To the extent permitted by law, ASX excludes all liability for any loss or damage arising in any way including by way of negligence.

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