Mutual funds registered for sale in Malaysia posted an average return of 4.69% in May, bringing the average gain for the first five months of 2009 to 22.90%, according to data from Lipper. All fund types delivered positive returns in the January to May period.

Commodities and equity funds posted double-digit returns of 13.88% and 10.96%, respectively.

The commodities fund group performed well as the market continued to re-rate the risks of inflation. The two commodity mainstays of gold and crude oil increased 10.56% and 31.70%, respectively, for the month of May, and 11.48% and 48.68% year-to-date in US dollar terms. While these numbers, particularly for crude oil, were an increase from a depressed base, the recent memories of soaring inflation in 2008 were not easily forgotten by the market.

Year-on-year performance for equity funds in May were still negative on average, however, with a 17.95% decline. Mixed-asset funds outperformed equity funds on a year-on-year basis but lagged by quite a lot during the few months of market rallies.

Real estate funds in May turned in a good performance, with the market pricing in a swift recovery for the sector. However, the top-performing fund was invested in Asia-Pacific small- and mid-caps, which saw the largest gain as investors re-rated their appetite for risky assets. The three best performing equity funds were OSK-UOB Asian Growth Opportunities (up 33.69%), Public Far-East Property & Resorts (up 30.80%), and OSK-UOB Asian Real Estate Other (up 21.72%).

The best performing bond fund was AmGlobal Bond (up 9.36%), while the worst performing bond fund was AUTB Dana Bon Amanah (down 12.37%). Both these bond funds maintained their positions in the table for the second consecutive month.