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A strong first quarter in stocks, but investors shouldn't ignore the dark clouds

Sun, 04 Apr 2010 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Consumer confidence is rising. Corporate dividends are coming back. Markets continue to thaw.

Frequently asked questions about 12b-1 fees

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EDT

Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Mary Schapiro has asked agency staff members to recommend possible changes to the 12b-1 fees that many mutual funds charge investors. Schapiro says one key problem is confusion about what services the fees cover. Here's a look at 12b-1s:

Securities commission questions 12b-1 fees mutual funds charge investors

Sun, 21 Mar 2010 00:00:00 EDT

BOSTON -- Many investors might skip over the line on their mutual fund disclosure statements that says "12b-1 fee." They might want to start wondering what's behind that label. These fees are the money that many funds collect to offset a variety of expenses, from advertising to brokers' commissions. They can cut into investors' returns.

How investors can ease the growing tax bite

Sun, 14 Feb 2010 00:00:00 EST

BOSTON -- If you're just beginning to think about this year's tax return, it might seem premature to consider tweaking your investment strategy for your next dance with Uncle Sam in 2011, and beyond.

Investors focus on bonds despite a big stock rebound

Sun, 10 Jan 2010 00:00:00 EST

NEW YORK -- Small investors, still jittery even as stocks roared back to life from the financial crisis, are turning back to the market looking for less-risky ways to reboot their portfolios.

Q& A With FPA Crescent Fund Manager: Keep Emotions in Check

Sun, 24 May 2009 00:00:00 EDT

Mutual fund managers are human, too. Their nerves can be frayed by a volatile market just like the rest of us.

Media Files:

Suffering and Hope

Sun, 05 Apr 2009 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- The first quarter ended on an upswing. But now comes the hard part: sustaining it.

Health-Care Funds Require Caution

Sun, 08 Feb 2009 00:00:00 EST

BOSTON -- Investors who sought refuge in health care have reason to feel less queasy than most in a sick economy where no industry has been recession-proof.

Media Files:

Ginnie Mae Funds Offer Investors a Safe Harbor

Sun, 01 Feb 2009 00:00:00 EST

BOSTON -- Home foreclosures and market volatility are running high. So any investment even remotely connected to mortgages is the last place to look if you're trying to protect your retirement savings, right?

Fund Managers Keeping Tabs On Small-Caps

Sun, 25 Jan 2009 00:00:00 EST

BOSTON -- As market observers watch for early signs that better times are around the corner, they're paying close attention to small-company stocks, which tend to recover earlier than large-company stocks coming out of a recession.

Media Files:

Target-Date Funds Take Time and Attention, Too

Sun, 18 Jan 2009 00:00:00 EST

Bracing for their year-end 401(k) statements, many investors who put money in 2010 target-date mutual funds may be facing a delayed retirement.

Recession Navigators

Sun, 04 Jan 2009 00:00:00 EST


Top-Performing Funds Find Value in Caution

Sun, 04 Jan 2009 00:00:00 EST

BOSTON -- Playing it safe paid off in 2008 for Tom Forester and David Ellison, two standout mutual fund managers in a year when winning meant losing less money than the competition.

As Fear Gripped Markets, Even Reliable Mutual Fund Strategies Didn't Work

Sun, 05 Oct 2008 00:00:00 EDT

It's been a rocky year for all investors, but for those who parked their money in mutual funds, it's been downright shocking.

U.S., Global Markets Still Viable Investments

Sun, 07 Sep 2008 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- While Wall Street is debating which economies abroad might join the United States in a slowdown, investors shouldn't wait for an answer.

Easing Inflation Could Help Bonds

Sun, 17 Aug 2008 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Investors who rushed to the relative safety of bond funds when the stock market began to stagger last year might have thought they had outrun the troubles in equities -- only to face the new threat of inflation when oil prices started soaring. But with the cost of crude now falling, some fixed-income investors could find themselves in an enviable position.

One End Point, Divergent Paths

Sun, 13 Jul 2008 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Investors are often drawn to target-date mutual funds thinking that an investment run on autopilot is one less thing to worry about. But when the going gets bumpy, nonchalance can give way to urgent questions about whether to move money around.

Energy's Hot, but Harnessing It Can Be Tricky

Sun, 01 Jun 2008 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- With higher prices at the pump unavoidable, many investors would no doubt love to put some of the money lost to $4-a-gallon gas back in their pockets.

Media Files:

Funds Guided by Sharia First, Earnings Second

Sun, 18 May 2008 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Moazzam Ahmed tried for years to square his investment goals with the tenets of Islam.

Is the Dollar Ready To Rise? Strategists See Reason to Hope

Sun, 11 May 2008 00:00:00 EDT

With higher prices at the gas pump and the grocery store, consumers might not be looking favorably at the dollar -- one of the reasons for the recent run-up in commodity prices. But for investors, bad feelings about the dollar could dissipate if it shows greater strength.

Tempted by Oil's Surge, Investors May Overlook the Downside

Sun, 04 May 2008 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Many investors like to buy what they know. Eat a lot of fast food, the logic goes, and buy McDonald's. Know a local department store well? Snap up shares of Macy's. It's trickier, though, when it comes to surging energy prices.

Media Files:

As Strains Go Global, It's a Time to Pick and Choose Abroad

Sun, 30 Mar 2008 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Investing in overseas stocks has been like a whirlwind trip abroad for U.S. investors the past few years. Now the journey has ended, at least temporarily, with a lesson in market forces.

Proxy Ballots Feature Human Rights and Climate Change Issues

Sun, 16 Mar 2008 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Discussions of the bloodshed in Darfur and issues like climate change occur regularly in the world of politics, but lately these issues have wedged their way into often dry financial disclosures.

With Low Fees, ETFs Rival Mutual Funds

Sun, 30 Dec 2007 00:00:00 EST

NEW YORK -- While mutual funds are a staple of many 401(k) and other retirement plans, exchange-traded funds are likely to become serious competitors in the coming years.

End of Year Offers Time to Evaluate Goals

Sun, 23 Dec 2007 00:00:00 EST

NEW YORK -- It's a time of year when we make promises of self-betterment that we have little intention of keeping. Sure, failing to drop those last few pounds or slog through a big read like "Ulysses" might be disappointing, but losing sight of investment goals can lead to longer-lasting troubles.

Time for a Portfolio Tuneup

Sun, 16 Dec 2007 00:00:00 EST

NEW YORK -- The final weeks of the year offer mutual fund investors an opportunity to make changes in their holdings. It's worth taking the time because a few deft moves now could make way for big gifts: smaller tax bills and more-rounded portfolios.

'Backtesting' May Not Predict Performance

Sun, 09 Dec 2007 00:00:00 EST

NEW YORK -- In investing, like sports, the numbers can be compelling but don't always tell the whole story.

With Some Advice, 401(k) Investors Get an Edge, Survey Finds

Sun, 02 Dec 2007 00:00:00 EST

NEW YORK -- Sales pitches bombard us every day with advice on what to eat, what to wear, and what to do with our money. While savvy consumers are quick to duck many of these distractions, investors looking for advice on how to save for retirement should think twice before tossing aside the colorful brochures of their 401(k) managers.

SEC Calls for Simplified Fund Disclosures

Sun, 25 Nov 2007 00:00:00 EST

NEW YORK -- The disclosure statements that come with mutual funds can seem so impenetrable that many investors don't bother slogging through them and instead toss them aside.

Will Your Money-Market Fund 'Break the Buck'?

Sun, 18 Nov 2007 00:00:00 EST

NEW YORK -- One of the safest and, lately, most attractive places for people to park some of their savings -- the money-market account -- is suddenly looking a little less secure thanks to fallout out from the mortgage mess.

Worried Bondholders Should Do Homework Before Divesting

Sun, 11 Nov 2007 00:00:00 EST

NEW YORK -- Mutual fund investors who looked to counter their stock holdings with a conservative footing in bonds might understandably feel betrayed by recent headlines warning of cracks in the credit markets and threats to the values of some bonds.

Mutual Funds for Kids Stress the Saving Lesson

Sun, 04 Nov 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- A lesson about investing might seem as appealing to young people as eating a bowl of spinach. Mutual funds that cater to children aim to make the whole process sweeter.

Money-Market Fund Investors Fret About Their SIV Risk

Sun, 28 Oct 2007 00:00:00 EDT

It's like subprime redux: Some money-market fund investors are again wondering if their investments are at risk because another complex investment product has fallen out of favor and become difficult to unload.

Natural-Resources Funds Rise With Demand for Raw Materials

Sun, 21 Oct 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Grumbling about gasoline prices has become as reflexive as complaining about the weather. But at least with rising gas prices, investors in natural resources funds have discovered there is something they can do about the problem.

Funds Designed to Put Retirement on Autopilot

Sun, 14 Oct 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Investors who use target-date funds to put their investments on cruise control until retirement face a common question: How will I manage my money so it holds out once I've stopped working?

With Assists From Google and Apple, Tech Sector Rebounds

Sun, 07 Oct 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Investors are betting that even if the economy slows, people will still turn to Google for Internet searches and Apple for iPods.

Expense Ratios Fall For 401(k) Programs

Sun, 30 Sep 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- While the array of 401(k) choices can at first seem daunting, many workers appear to be seeing one thing clearly: the value of lower expenses.

Inflow to Domestic Funds Drying Up

Sun, 23 Sep 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Only a fool would have stayed in the market after the dot-com collapse. To look past the stock market's swoon and stay invested would have been a mistake, right?

Gold's New Prospectors

Sun, 16 Sep 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- With many on Wall Street straining to determine the Federal Reserve's next move, some investors who smell an impending interest rate cut aren't waiting around for the central bank.

Carefully Chosen REITs May Offer Investors a Buying Opportunity

Sun, 09 Sep 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Real estate investment trusts have taken a drubbing this year as some investors have grown concerned that the real estate portfolios these companies hold are overvalued. But a drop in REIT share prices could signal an opportunity for investors willing to look under the hood.

Multiple Managers May Help Lift a Fund

Sun, 02 Sep 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Two isn't always more than one.

How Much Money-Market Vulnerability?

Sun, 26 Aug 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- The market turmoil of the past month spawned by growing credit market problems is spilling over to money-market funds, an investment long seen as a safe and secure place to park cash.

Fleeing to Bonds? Choose Carefully.

Sun, 19 Aug 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Investors rushing from a tumultuous stock market into bonds might run smack into the same problems if they don't look where they're going.

Patience Can Pay Off, Analysts Say; Stocks Remain Up for '07

Sun, 12 Aug 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- From an early age, people are trained to act quickly when they hear sounds of emergency: fire alarms, police sirens, even car horns. So while it might be difficult for investors who hear alarm bells on Wall Street, often the wisest reaction is to stand still.

A Turn to Dollar-Cost Averaging?

Sun, 05 Aug 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- With the stock market resembling more bronco than bull in recent weeks, some investors accustomed to a steadier ride might be tempted to step aside and wait for calm to return.

Few Investors Embracing Alternative-Energy Funds

Sun, 08 Jul 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Most U.S. investors see putting money into alternative-energy companies as both potentially lucrative and a way to support the environment. But while many might see opportunity, few are taking it.

Calming Jangled Nerves and Portfolios

Sun, 01 Jul 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- With the stock market having jitters after a strong run-up in the past year, some investors might want something more low-key.

Investors' Growing Portfolios Trigger Lower Fund Fees

Sun, 24 Jun 2007 00:00:00 EDT

Last year's surging stock market not only helped many mutual fund owners earn more but also padded returns by pushing more investors into territory where they qualified for lower fund fees.

Defending the Family Name With Strong Returns

Sun, 17 Jun 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- As a child, Craig Hodges watched his father work and delighted in how easy it seemed to be a professional money manager.

An Inclusive Mutual Fund in an Era of Specialization

Sun, 03 Jun 2007 00:00:00 EDT

NEW YORK -- Investors looking to all-cap funds as a simple way to immerse themselves in a wide variety of stocks might consider that "all" in some cases can really mean "most," as in "all-expenses-paid vacation" or "all solid gold."