In a world where the minute, second and even millisecond that you pull the trading trigger can materially affect the return you get, managers of mutual funds too often are slow to buy when prices are rising and too fast when prices are dropping.

That's the result of a study of thousands of orders in a two-year database of stock transactions in the United States, executed by Pipeline Trading Systems, a supplier of tools to institutional trading desks. The company analyzes high-frequency trading techniques and how they affect mutual funds.

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