The world of investing looks much brighter than it did a mere three months ago, and third-quarter mutual fund returns reflect that. "The market today is awfully strong across the board," says Russel Kinnel, director of mutual fund research at Morningstar.

For the most part, both U.S. and European equity funds registered sharp upticks, Kinnel notes. "In addition," he adds, "bonds and munis have done pretty well. About the only investment category that didn't fare well was long-term government funds.

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