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Equity Funds Struggle In March But Remain Positive For The Quarter, Morningstar Canada Data Show

TORONTO, April 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ - Despite lacklustre performance in March, most equity funds in Canada posted gains—many of them in the double digits—for the first quarter of 2012, according to preliminary performance numbers released today by Morningstar Canada. Among the 22 Morningstar Canada Fund Indices that measure the aggregate performance of equity fund categories, eight indices increased by more than 10%, while only one had a negative result for the quarter.

"This was the first quarter in a long time where markets didn't suffer from looming uncertainty over Europe, as the European Central Bank injected funds into regional banks in a hope to spur growth. However, some fears have begun to emerge that further financing will be necessary, leading to some speculation that investors can expect lower growth in the coming months," said Morningstar Fund Analyst Adam Fisch.

The top performer for the quarter was the Morningstar U.S. Equity Fund Index, which increased by 11.4%—its best result over any three-month period in more than a year. "U.S. equities lead the way during the first quarter following encouraging data on housing, consumer spending and consumer sentiment," Fisch said. The second-best performer, with an 11.3% increase, was the fund index that tracks the Financial Services Equity category, followed by emerging Markets Equity, Health Care Equity, and Global Small/Mid Cap Equity, which were up 11.1%, 10.9%, and 10.8%, respectively.

Most equity categories had solid returns in both January and February, but in March the results were negative for 10 of the fund indices. The best performers in March were the Health Care Equity and Financial Services Equity fund indices with increases of 4% each, followed by U.S. Equity with a 3.8% increase. All three of these fund indices were also in the top five performers for the quarter. Some of the fund indices that lost ground in March still posted strong results for the quarter, such as Greater China Equity which decreased by 5.4% last month but ended the quarter up 6.9%.

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