'How High' Becomes 'Too High'

For many investors, the Dow's records bring puzzlement more than euphoria.

Some 92 percent of the mutual funds that invest in stocks underperformed the broader market for the first four months of 1997.

And 94 percent fell short of the market during the trailing 12 months.

And if the market turns around, those same funds could well lose their footing.

For many experts, the stock market's dazzling performance presents a reason to avoid it. They suggest some non-stock strategies:

1. A bond fund. Intermediate-term funds, such as Spartan Investment Grade Fund, (800-544-8888) may work better than long-term funds, since some analysts expect interest rates to rise.

2. A money-market mutual fund. Yields are running around 5 percent, which beats the return on many stock funds.

3. A bank CD (certificate of deposit). Banks have become highly competitive, with rates on one-year CDs now ranging between 5.5 percent and 6 percent.

Most analysts suggest avoiding CDs for terms longer than a year because of possible additional interest rate hikes.

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