Imagine you wake up one morning to find everything-actions, events, and outcomes-exactly the same as on the previous day. That was the premise for Bill Murray's character in the movie Groundhog Day, where no matter what decisions he made, the next day started as if he had done nothing at all the previous day. Although not quite as extreme, equity investors have seen a definite parallel since the beginning of 2011.

The first quarter of recent years started out spectacularly as U.S. equities rallied and brought the hope of growth to the market. Equity funds finished the first three months of 2011 up 5.14% on average-for their best first quarter return since 2006; this was despite the Japanese earthquake and the subsequent nuclear incident as well as the budding unrest in the Middle East.

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