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Fresh thinking on investing for income in a low-yield world

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After five years of being told to brace yourself for rising interest rates that never materialized, you may have felt that income investing was beginning to feel like “Waiting for Godot.”

That is, until the middle of 2013. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose 1.3 points between May and September as the bond markets absorbed the real prospect of the Federal Reserve beginning to scale back the stimulus program that has kept rates abnormally low. The average intermediate-bond fund lost 4 percent in that stretch. The highest-yielding segments of the stock world — utilities, telecoms, and real estate investment trusts — also slumped.