NU Online News Service, April 18, 10:15 a.m. – Actively managed sector funds fell slightly in the first quarter of 2003 compared to the previous quarter but were a little ahead of Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, according to a report in S&P’s “Fund Advisor.”

In the current economic and geopolitical uncertainty, sector funds’ performance in the first quarter provided no clear indication of how they might fare in the year ahead, S&P says.

On average, the funds finished down 1.7% in the quarter, compared to a drop of 3.2% in the S&P index. The Nasdaq dropped 0.42% over the same period.

The sector funds did a little better than a year ago, when they lost on average roughly 2% during the first quarter, versus a rise of 0.2% for the S&P 500 and a decline of 5.4% for the Nasdaq.

Real estate funds did best in the first quarter of 2003, rising 1.2%, after climbing 3.2% for all of 2002, S&P says. Real estate funds gained 7.7% in the first quarter of last year.

Gold funds were at the bottom of the list, falling 11.8% for the quarter after returning 61.4% in 2002 overall. In the first quarter of last year, gold was among the top performing fund groups, rising on average better than 30%, according to S&P.