Investors turn to utilities, gold and dividends for stable returns as equities sink

Poor equity market performance is driving investors into alternative asset classes such as utilities, gold and dividends in the search for stable returns

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Surging interest in utilities

Market jitters pushed the Dow Jones Emerging Markets Total Stock Market Index, the newly launched Asia Dow Index and the Europe Dow Index down by 20%, 16.7% and 11.8%, respectively, in 2011.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fared better and was up 5.5% over the year, while the S&P 500 rose by 1%. Dow Jones Indexes (DJI) saw a surge in interest for its utilities index, which was up by 19.7%. Gold was up by roughly 9.6% over the year.

Over the same period, DJI's benchmark commodities index was

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