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Mutual, Hedge, ETF Fund Data Can Also Help Stock-Pickers

Independent stock-pickers generally don't have much use for mutual funds or exchange traded funds.

For these cowboy and cowgirl capitalists, letting a fund manager pick your stocks is like letting your Aunt Rose choose your date and destination for Saturday night. (How can you not have a good time at the church and the library?) So, this brings us to a related question: Why would aggressive investors read IBD's Mutual Funds & ETFs pages

Believe it or not, those staid pages have more relevance to stock-picking than the cowboys and cowgirls might imagine. They can give the stock-picker a good feel for the market climate.

The savvy stock-picker wants to know where the tail winds and head winds are in any market. The funds section can help on that score.

Checking some features on these pages should be a regular ritual: • Small-Cap Growth Funds Vs. Big-Cap Growth Funds: This little chart, today on A7, will help keep you on the right side of the trend. If the line is rising, that means small caps are outperforming the big caps.

Small caps generally are more of a risk-on trade. So, how they are doing tells you something about the market's mood.

The chart also lists the largest positions of funds in the small-cap index. Recently the big positions included Alaska Air (ALK) and Tupperware (TUP) — stocks that have appeared in IBD stock screens.

Value Funds Vs. Growth Funds: The old argument on whether you should be a value investor or a growth investor misses the point. You go where the winners are. Will Danoff, the fund manager of Fidelity Contrafund, told Forbes in a 2008 interview that he doesn't let labels become limitations: "I just try and find the best stocks that will go up.

This chart will help point you to where you might find those best stocks. Don't snub the so-called value label if that's where the winners are emerging.

The largest positions in the value index include TJX Cos. (TJX) and Western Digital (WDC) — stocks that recently made the IBD 50.

Growth Funds Leading The Market: This box highlights a fund and its largest positions, top new buys and top sells. Pay special attention to the new buys and sells among A or A+ funds.

If you check this box daily, you will begin to see certain names showing up repeatedly on either the buy or sell side.

1-Month, 3-Month or 6-Month Winners & Losers: This box shows the top 10 and bottom 10 performers among exchange traded funds. Recently the top 10 in three-month performance (as of the April 10 IBD) included traditionally defensive plays — food and beverage, health providers, utilities and consumer staples.