For equity mutual funds, the fiscal third quarter yielded mixed results in terms of performance, but conditions are expected to improve as investors look for a fresh start heading into the new year.

Fund research firm Lipper of New York reported that within the U.S. diversified equity fund category, bear funds "rose to the top" in the third quarter, while equity income funds managed to "eke out" some gains. Growth funds, on the other hand, were "definitely not in favor," with large-cap growth funds down 4.6% for the quarter.

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