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Muriel Siebert & Co.


It's ugly out there and could get uglier



It's ugly out there and could get uglier.

If you've ever played ping-pong, keeping that light white ball in play is the name of the game. Miss a return, however, and it will hit the floor, bounce way high, hit the floor, bounce again and again, then eventually kind of dribble its way to a stop on the floor. Keep that visual in mind. It's how volatile markets typically play themselves out.

To that end, I'd guess that we're somewhere between bounces.

For all the mutual fund investors out there, and there are an estimated 88 million of you, according to the Investment Company Institute (ICI), the trade association for the fund industry, this year has seen your investment assets dwindle big time.

For instance, of the 13,158 equity funds that Lipper tracks, year-to-date performance through October 30 shows the average stock fund to be down 37.52 percent. A closer look at the numbers reveals the following: If you wanted to be ahead of the game, as in plus-performance territory, there was only one place to be: Dedicated Short Bias Funds, they were up on average 42.20 percent. The next best group performer was Equity Market Neutral Funds--- funds here were down on average 6.84 percent.

Even gold hasn't glittered: Gold Orientated Funds were off 51.35 percent. China Funds were in the tank too, down on average over 57 percent.

Fund types with better-than-average performance so far this year (remember average is minus 37.5 percent) include Specialty Equity Diversified Funds, down 16.35 percent; Health/Biotechnology Funds, down 23.35 percent; Specialty Miscellaneous Funds, down 26.32 percent; and Global Health/Biotechnology Funds off 26.34 percent.

And there you have it (for now). Let's hope that little white ball gets back in play soon.


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