A number of equity mutual funds are now looking to include shorting in their arsenal of tactics and maneuvers - a potential sign that fund managers don't see a reprieve to the bear market anytime soon.

Leading fund companies, including OppenheimerFunds of New York, CDC Nvest of Boston, Montgomery Asset Management of San Francisco and Legg Mason of Baltimore, are asking shareholders of a number of their funds to allow fund managers to short the market. Although the firms declined to comment, and some industry analysts questioned whether any of the funds would actually employ such a risky strategy, the shareholder letters spell out a clear intention to boost performance should market conditions persist.

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