Lipper’s latest performance data, through July 30, shows that the first half of 2009 has been kind to mutual funds. The performance in all major fund categories is in positive territory year to date, with world-equity funds posting total returns of nearly 24 percent and U.S. equity funds returning about 14.5 percent in the first two quarters.

Some of the largest U.S.-based funds had the following positive returns: Pimco Total Return 8 percent, American Funds Growth 19 percent, Fidelity Contrafund 12 percent and the Dodge & Cox Stock Fund 14.4 percent. Some emerging market and leveraged-bullish funds are up between 95 and 175 percent in the first six months of 2009, according to Lipper, such as the Dreyfus Emerging Asia Fund.

In the fixed-income area, several high-yield funds have improved roughly 45 percent. This includes funds sold by Rydex, Eaton Vance and Fidelity. During this same period, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 4.3 percent, the Nasdaq 25.8 percent, S&P 500 9.2 percent and the NYSE Composite 1.3 percent.

Global science and technology funds have risen 42 percent, and global natural resource funds have increased nearly 26 percent. Gold funds are up 21 percent, while real-estate funds are down 1 percent. Financial-services funds have ticked up 5 percent, and healthcare funds 10 percent. Diversified-leveraged funds have expanded 20 percent, while long-term equity/fixed-income funds have risen 15 percent.

Janet Levaux, MBA/MA, is the editor of www.Researchmag.com and managing editor of Research magazine; reach her at jlevaux@researchmag.com.