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It's been a money making first quarter at home and around the world but...

By Dian Vujovich

Odds are, if you’ve been participating in the stock market your portfolio is plumper today than it was at the end of last year. Unless, that is, you’ve been shorting the market.

Assuming you’re not, or if you are and have been leveraging it by playing both sides via mutual fund investing, the bad news is that the average dedicated short bias mutual fund was down 16 percent from December 31 through March 29, 2012, according to Lipper.

Aside from that fund heading, the only other losing fund types were precious metals funds, down on average 2.8 percent; commodities agricultural funds, off 2.75 percent; and commodities specialty funds, down 1.6 percent.

And that’s it!

Every other one of Lipper’s fund categories moved ahead with the average U.S Diversified Equity Fund up 12.15 percent (there are 7.982 of them). Of the 13,334 in Lipper’s Equity Fund universe, the average fund was up 11.68 percent. Again, year-to-date through March 29—not March 30.

That’s worth cheering about. Right?

But wait, there’s more.

Bespoke Investment Group offered some dazzling country stock market performance returns last week, as well as, how IPO’s here at home have performed this year.

First, at look at the markets in various countries: Of the 78 countries included in their research, the top three performances came from Venezuela, its market was up 70.65 percent, followed by Vietnam, up over 25 percent and then Romania, ahead 22.5 percent.

On the other hand, the three countries where the stock markets performed the worst were Sri Lanka, down 10.9 percent, Spain, off 7.6 percent and Slovakia, off 5.2 percent.

Returning to the United States and the razzle-dazzle of our IPO market, when comparing the S&P500 with the Bloomberg IPO Index, the winner for the first quarter of 2012 is the Bloomberg IPO Index. It was up 17.8 percent, according to Bespoke data. That’s five percentage points more than S&P 500’s return of 12.1 percent.

And all of this brings me to the future—something no one has ever been able to predict correctly be they economists or weather forecasters. That said, there are those who have been managing money for decades whose experience can teach us all a thing or two.

During an interview with Paul Luther on another subject—he is a wealth advisor in Merrill Lynch’s Palm Beach office who has been managing client’s money for 35 years—I was reminded that markets don’t move up indefinitely. He said, “There is a limit to how much something can grow.”

And of course, he’s right.

Remember that when assessing the value of, and the values in, your portfolio going forward.

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

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