The average mutual fund return could fall to 15 percent this year, down from 20 percent to 25 percent over the past few years, according to Putnam, Lovell, de Guardiola & Thornton of San Francisco, an investment banking firm that specializes in the investment advisory sector.

Overall, however, the outlook for mutual funds and other investments in 1999 is positive, according to Putnam, Lovell. Mutual fund assets could surpass $6 trillion this year, the firm says. The mutual fund industry had $5.7 trillion in assets under management as of January, according to the Investment Company Institute.

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