There was a day not long ago when the words "market timing" failed to raise so much as a murmur among mutual fund executives and state and federal regulators.

But since New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and the Securities and Exchange Commission began their sweeping investigation of the practice some 20 months ago, it's become the most nerve-racking term in the industry, despite the fact that, by and large, it's legal.

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