Back to Black in August -- Barely

Stock funds just inched into positive territory in the dog days of summer, and gold-stock funds made a triumphant return

Given the carnage in the markets in July -- major indexes hit their lows for the year on July 24, and stock funds fell an average of 10% that month -- August's barely positive mutual-fund returns were a welcome relief. The average U.S. diversified stock fund was up 0.2% for the month (a bit worse than the 0.7% return for the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index), and the average bond fund gained 1.3%. Year-to-date, the average stock fund, like the S&P 500, is down 19%. In contrast, the average bond fund is up 4.6% so far this year.

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