It's been a year of extremes. From the optimism of the first quarter, when the Dow and the S&P 500 were up 7.1% and 5.9% respectively, to the debt-ceiling standoff and the sovereign debt crisis in Europe that drove those same indexes down 11.5% and nearly 14% during the third quarter, equity investors have been scrambling to figure out their next moves.

The result of this global political and financial turmoil has been jarring increases in volatility. Daily stock price index movements of 1% or more to the upside or downside, shifts of 4% in a 30-minute trading window—these events have left many investors with a desire for a sense of stability. Equity-income funds may provide some of that stability.

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