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Funds Up Funds Down

By Dian Vujovich

The past four weeks along with the month of March have been good for mutual fund investors. The first quarter, well, not so hot.

Take a look at the returns on the average stock fund over the past four weeks— from March 5 through April 2, 2009— and Lordy Lordy, you’d find that the average U.S. Diversified Equity fund was up 21.58 percent, according to Lipper. Almost hard to believe, isn’t it.

Take another look backwards, this time at the first quarter of 2009 (12/31/08 to 3/31/09), and the numbers show the average diversified equity fund was down 8.92 percent, according to that same source.

More stats: During that quarter, seven of the 78 classifications in Lipper’s equity universe showed positive returns. They were: Gold-Orientated funds, up on average 10.69 percent; Global Science & Technology funds, ahead 4.15 percent; Science & Technology funds, up 3.77 percent; Convertible Securities funds gained 2.37 percent; Dedicated Short Bias funds, up 2.14 percent: Latin American funds, ahead 0.53 percent; and China Region funds, up 0.30 percent.

Going back to the March-only performance figures, they were the strongest one-month returns on equity funds since April 2001 with 98 percent of all equity and mixed-equity funds positing positive returns.

In March, the average equity fund was up 7.87 percent and the best performing category was World Equity funds. Under that heading, fund types were up on average 8.32 percent thanks to the good performances from Pacific ex-Japan, China Region and Emerging Markets funds.

For a more thorough look at Lipper’s mutual fund performance numbers, visit Allaboutfunds.com (www.allaboutfunds.com).

Every year Lipper gives out awards to the investment companies they consider the best fund families around. The selection process is based on fund families that have delivered consistently strong risk-adjusted performance returns.

This year’s award for the best large fund family went to American Century funds in Kansas City, Mo., and Waddell & Reed of Overland Park Kan., won the award for the best small fund group. (A large fund company is defined as one with more than $28 billion in assets and a small fund company one with less than half of that amount.)

Other winners: The American Funds Group won for the best large-equity fund group; Rainier Investment for best small-equity group; Janus Capital won for best large fixed-income group; and HighMark Capital as the best small fixed-income fund group.

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