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Editor's Introduction: Staying Out Of The Cold

Market historians and optimists might be hopeful about the stock marketin the coming months, even year.

Over time, midterm elections during the first-terms of Democratic presidents have brought stunning market rallies, on the assumption that the combination of a Democrat in the White House and a Republican-controlled senate often results in gridlock, which tends to reduce uncertainty for Wall Street.

If that is the case, US stocks in 2010 will almost certainly finish higher for the second straight year after a devastating 2008 and a down 2007. They might even manage a double-digit gain.

There's always the exception, however, and this year has brought more than its share for stocks: a red-hot July and September; a brutal, cold August.

What's more, given the health of the US economy—and the global one—as well as changes in the world of investing, there's ample reason for pause.

Demand and growth remain weak and debt high for both consumers and governments. The growing role of high-frequency tradingand other institutional, computer-driven investing forces sometimes make technical factors as powerful as fundamental ones in moving stock prices.

Meanwhile, two years after the financial crisis and ten years after the great bear market, retail investors are feeling twice burned and very much shy about re-entering the stock market. Financial advisors these days seem to spend as much time on hand holding as they do actively managing their clientsportfolios.

There's growing talk of a bond bubble and a gold bubble in a safe-haven-obsessed marketplace.

For all the talk of a new normal, some may be wondering if it is more a matter of no normal. Do the same rules rules—diversification, buy and hold—and vehicles—mutual funds, single stocks—still apply? Is there a new calculus, physics to the world of investing?

It's against this backdrop, that we've assembled our annual our "Winterizing Your Portfolio" special report, addressing some of the nagging concerns and questions.

Analysis & Advice:

Slideshows:

Earnings

Commodities

Currencies

Mutual Funds

  • NEW YORK— It looks like we really are giving the stock market another chance. Last year stock index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds attracted a net $166.6 billion, according to Morningstar. At the same time, $98.4 billion went in the opposite direction out of actively managed ones.

  • NEW YORK, Jan 22- Calling it a play on falling U.S. gas prices, the portfolio manager of the one of the top-performing large-cap value funds over the last decade recently purchased slightly more than 1 million shares of Dunkin' Brands Group Inc, parent company of Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins. Dunkin' Brands shares fell nearly 10 percent over two days after the...

  • BOSTON, Jan 22- Warning to mutual fund investors: the tax man is coming. U.S. investors in stock funds will take a big tax hit this year on capital gains that could top $300 billion after portfolio managers exhausted most of their loss reserves to offset several years of stock market advances. It's what you keep, " Boston- based Eaton Vance, which has nearly $300 billion...

Bonds