Bull, Tech Funds Leading the Pack; Vanguard Reopens Convertible Fund

In the taxable fixed-income group, the bull and ultra-long Treasuries dominate the quarter-to-date and year-to-date charts, according to Lipper data.

The latest Lipper research - tracking fund categories and fund performance - indicated that, among the largest funds, the Pimco Total Return Fund has risen 3.75% year to date, though this week it declined 0.5%. Meanwhile, the Vanguard Total Stock Fund rose 3.3% this week and is up 0.84% for the year so far.

The Fidelity Contrafund grew 3.9% this week, but is down 0.6 percent year to date. And American Funds Growth ticked up 3.3% for the week, though it's down 2.5% year to date.

Equity Funds

On a year-to-date basis, a few select tech-focused funds lead the pack. ProFunds Mobile Telecomm has improved 31% year to date, and the Internet Infrastructure HOLDRS has risen 25.5%.

Direxion's Real Estate Bull 3X boasts returns of 28%, while the iPath ETN Global Carbon is up 23%.

The Fidelity Select Transport has improved 22%, and the Fidelity Select Banking has ticked up 18.5%.

Bull funds, like the Direxion Latin American Bull 3X and Direxion China Bull 3X have returns of 22.6% and higher year to date.

Gold funds have improved 15% or more for the past 13 weeks.

Fixed Income

In the tax-exempt fixed-income group, Eaton Vance municipals across the United States improved from 0.3-0.7% this week. Year to date, Oppenheimer municipals and Nuveen products are ahead of the pack. The Oppenheimer New Jersey Muni has ticked up 7.14%, while the Nuveen California High Yield Muni has risen 7%.

In the taxable fixed-income group, the bull and ultra-long Treasuries dominated the quarter-to-date and year-to-date charts.

Direxion 30 Year Treasure Bull 3X is up 25% for the quarter, while the ProShares Ultra 20-Plus Year Treasury is ahead 16.5%.

The PIMCO ETF 25-Plus Year US Treasury has risen 14.5% since April 1.

Year to date, these funds and similar ones are doing well, as are the Fidelity Real Estate High Income, up 14%, and the PIMCO Extended Duration, up 13%.

Fund News

Vanguard announced this week that it is reopening the $1.8 billion Vanguard Convertible Securities Fund (VCVSX) to new individual investors. Plus, the $25,000 annual investment limit that applied to existing accounts has been removed.

The fund was closed and the investment limit was adopted in June 2009 following concerns that continued strong cash inflows could impede the fund advisors' ability to effectively manage it.

Cash inflows have since subsided, Vanguard says.

The Convertible Securities Fund seeks to provide income and long-term capital appreciation by investing in a broadly diversified group of these hybrid securities, which combine the investment characteristics of bonds and common stocks.

The six Vanguard funds that remain closed to new accounts are the Vanguard PRIMECAP Fund, PRIMECAP Core Fund, Capital Opportunity Fund, Capital Value Fund, Admiral Treasury Money Market Fund, and Federal Money Market Fund.

In the ETF arena, the PowerShares International Corporate Bond Portfolio ETF (PICB) is expected to list on NYSE Arca on June 3. The fund seeks results that correspond (before fees and expenses) generally to the price and yield performance of the S&P International Corporate Bond Index, according to the company.

The index measures the performance of investment grade corporate bonds issued by non-U.S. issuers in the following G-10 currencies: Australian dollar, Euro, New Zealand dollar, Norwegian krone, Canadian dollar, British pound, Japanese yen, Danish krone, Swiss franc, and Swedish krona.

For inclusion in the index, each bond must be rated investment grade by Standard & Poor's or Moody's Investors Service, Inc. The lowest of the two ratings is used to determine eligibility. Each bond must also have a minimum amount outstanding, respective to the currency in which it is issued.

The index uses a modified market capitalization weighted methodology. The weight of each bond in the index is based on its outstanding market value, but the aggregate weight of the bonds in a single currency may not exceed 50%.

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