Mutual fund companies are increasingly taking on the mindset of hedge funds, as they seek to offer clients access to alternative investments such as commodities or real estate and strategies like absolute return investing and combinations of going long on some stocks and selling others short.

"We're definitely seeing more mutual fund companies are getting into alternative investments," said Christopher Long, president of Palmer Square Capital Management in Leawood, Kan. "Because of a combination of market uncertainty due to the crisis in Europe and the U.S. fiscal cliff, those [investment] areas that have been historically hedge fund areas are now the ones that mutual funds are going after."

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