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Many stock-fund managers are looking like stars based on last year’s strong market. But there are new faces on the winners’ podium. The stock market’s recovery from the lows recorded in late 2018, together with volatility during 2019, resulted in a shake-up in The Wall Street Journal’s list of the best-performing actively managed U.S.-stock mutual funds for the trailing 12 months.

Below, some of the best analysis and insight from WSJ writers and columnists, the Dow Jones Newswires team and occasionally beyond, on investing, the wealth-management business and more.


Small Investors Pour Cash Into Reborn Real-Estate Funds: A once-discredited type of real-estate fund aimed at small investors has come roaring back, under new management. These funds, which go by the name of nontraded real-estate investment trusts, buy officer towers, hotels, shopping centers and other commercial property. They tout annual dividends of more than 5% and typically require investors to put in at least $2,500.

From Dow Jones Newswires

Companies generating much of their revenue within the US posted better earnings than their more foreign-exposed counterparts last year, in part because of slowing global growth and trade tensions. Expect the reverse to happen in 2020, Credit Suisse says. The firm forecasts US companies with more foreign exposure to post earnings growth of 9.4% in the first half of 2020 from the year-earlier period, while it sees more domestically-focused firms growing earnings by 5.7%. For the fourth quarter, results are likely to be less robust, though: CS says expectations are “uninspiring,” with earnings projected to grow for just six of the S&P 500’s 11 sectors. ([email protected])

Citigroup sees a “desire to acquire” in the chemical sector and identifies Axalta Coating Systems, Celanese and Huntsman as top takeout candidates this year. Axalta was frequently mentioned as a takeover target last year, and the Citi analysts said a deal is likely this year, with companies like Akzo Nobel taking another look. Citi says Celanese could do a deal with DuPont’s transportation and industrial business and also may shed its acetyls business. The analysts think LyondellBasell could be interested in Huntsman now that Huntsman has sold its intermediates business. ([email protected])


Goldman Sachs Lifts the Veil to Woo Skeptical Shareholders:  An overhaul of the bank’s financial disclosures will peel back the curtain on its lending and proprietary bets and reshape its quarterly reports.


Banks Consider ESG Factors in Lending: ESG factors are increasingly part of global banks’ consideration in underwriting processes, according to Fitch Ratings. Though rating impacts on companies due to ESG-related bank-funding decisions are still rare, sectors such as those affected by emissions regulations and the rising cost of carbon could face challenges in bank financing for the long term, Fitch says. Banks’ consideration for ESG risk usually results in greater due diligence rather than outright deal rejection, with the metals, mining, chemicals and fertilizers sectors scrutinized for environmental risks and the gaming and leisure sector scrutinized for social risks, Fitch says.


How to Jump Start Your Career in 2020: The start of a new year is when many are taking stock of how their career is progressing and setting professional goals for the coming year. Women especially may be thinking about compensation and how they can narrow the gender pay gap, career coaches say.


Co-Parenting Sites Skip Love and Marriage, Go Right to the Baby Carriage: A new kind of online service matches people who want to have children, but not necessarily romance.


The Wealth Adviser Briefing covers topics of interest to wealth managers, financial planners and other advisers. The content is curated by the Dow Jones Newswires team using articles from the Newswires, Barron’s, MarketWatch and The Wall Street Journal. The briefing is delivered to subscribers by email each workday morning at 6:30 a.m. ET. You can sign up here for email delivery.

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