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Buy 5 Best Dividend Mutual Funds for Enticing Returns

A Fed rate hike seems off the table in June as companies scaled back hiring in April. Not only was the increase in hiring the slowest since September, the labor force participation rate also declined, which could mean that people found it a bit more difficult to get jobs. The Fed is already cautious about raising rates in the near term as the U.S. inflation rate in the first quarter came in way below its desired target.

Possibility of a rate hike receding in the near term makes investment in dividend paying mutual funds more alluring. As economic growth stalled in the first three months of the year, with a slew of data from consumer spending to manufacturing in April neither painting a solid picture, it will be prudent to stay invested in such funds. Dividend paying funds generally remain unperturbed by the vagaries of the economy.

Rate Hike Improbable in June

The latest report on weak job creations in April made the Fed cautious about raising rates sooner. The U.S. economy created a total of 160,000 jobs in April, significantly lower than the consensus estimate of 203,000. The tally was also considerably lower than March’s downwardly revised job number of 208,000.

The unemployment rate in April was in line with March’s rate of 5%. However, more people dropped out of the labor force. The participation rate fell to 62.8%, declining for the first time in 7 months as 300,000 individuals quit jobs or gave up job searches. An impending threat with regard to job additions continues to haunt the economy. Companies’ profits are getting squeezed, so they could look to stabilize their labor costs by reducing hiring further.

Fed officials were already harboring mixed feelings about raising rates in June. The core personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index, the Fed’s preferred inflation measure, increased 0.1% in the first quarter, below the consensus estimate of a 0.2% gain. This is also way below the Fed’s desired target level of 2%.

Economic Data Disappointing

As businesses and consumers turned cautious with their spending, the U.S. economy posted its weakest quarterly growth in two years between January and March. The U.S. economy expanded at an annualized rate of 0.5% in the first quarter, way below last quarter’s growth rate of 1.4%, according to the Commerce Department.

Into the second quarter, things aren’t looking bright either. Consumer spending that weakened in the first quarter may have further experienced a slowdown in April. The Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index declined to 89.0 in April from 91.0 in March. Compared with year-ago levels, the index plummeted 7.2%. The battered U.S. manufacturing sector did stabilize a bit in April, but is yet to regain full health. The ISM manufacturing index dropped to 50.8 in April from 51.8 in March.

Top 5 Dividend Mutual Funds to Invest In

Diminishing chances of a rate hike soon, calls for investing in dividend paying mutual funds. Dividend payers suffer when rates are rising as investors focus on safe bonds. Add to this a flurry of weak economic reports and we all know why investing in such top-notch dividend funds won’t be a bad proposition.

Companies that pay dividends persistently put a ceiling on economic uncertainty. These companies have steady cash flows and are mostly financially stable and mature companies, which help their stock prices to increase gradually over a period of time. Moreover, dividends are less taxed as compared to interest income, help your portfolio to grow at a compounded rate and offer protection from earnings manipulation.

We have selected five such mutual funds that offer a promising year-to-date dividend yield, have given impressive 3-year and 5-year annualized returns, boast a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank #1 (Strong Buy) or #2 (Buy), offer a minimum initial investment within $2,500 and carry a low expense ratio. Funds have been selected over stocks, since funds reduce transaction costs for investors and also diversify their portfolio without the numerous commission charges that stocks need to bear.

Vanguard Dividend Growth Investor (VDIGX) invests primarily in stocks that tend to offer current dividends. VDIGX’s year-to-date dividend yield is 1.88%. VDIGX’s 3-year and 5-year annualized returns are 10.5% and 11.9%, respectively. Annual expense ratio of 0.33% is lower than the category average of 1.01%. VDIGX has a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank #2.

Fidelity Strategic Dividend & Income (FSDIX) invests the fund’s assets with a focus on equity securities that pay current dividends. FSDIX’s year-to-date dividend yield is 2.71%. FSDIX’s 3-year and 5-year annualized returns are 7.1% and 9.3%, respectively. Annual expense ratio of 0.75% is lower than the category average of 0.82%. FSDIX has a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank #1.

Vanguard Dividend Appreciation Index Investor (VDAIX) seeks to track the performance of a benchmark index that measures the investment return of common stocks of companies that have a record of increasing dividends over time. VDAIX’s year-to-date dividend yield is 1.95%. VDAIX’s 3-year and 5-year annualized returns are 8.7% and 9.9%, respectively. Annual expense ratio of 0.19% is lower than the category average of 1.01%. VDAIX has a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank #2.

Fidelity Dividend Growth (FDGFX) invests primarily in companies that pay dividends or that Fidelity Management & Research Company believes that these companies have the potential to pay dividends in the future. FDGFX’s year-to-date dividend yield is 1.38%. FDGFX’s 3-year and 5-year annualized returns are 8.9% and 8.3%, respectively. Annual expense ratio of 0.68% is lower than the category average of 1.01%. FDGFX has a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank #2.

Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index Investor (VHDYX) employs an indexing investment approach designed to track the performance of the FTSE High Dividend Yield Index. VHDYX’s year-to-date dividend yield is 2.9%. VHDYX’s 3-year and 5-year annualized returns are 10.2% and 12.1%, respectively. Annual expense ratio of 0.16% is lower than the category average of 1.1%. VHDYX has a Zacks Mutual Fund Rank #1.

About Zacks Mutual Fund Rank

By applying the Zacks Rank to mutual funds, investors can find funds that not only outpaced the market in the past but are also expected to outperform going forward. Pick the best mutual funds with the help of Zacks Rank.


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