DEFINITION of 'Bear Fund'

A mutual fund designed to provide higher returns when the market declines in value. Bear funds may be actively managed or may be designed to follow an index. In the case of an index bear fund, the fund tracks the inverse of the index.

BREAKING DOWN 'Bear Fund'

Investors looking to hedge their exposure to market downturns may want to consider adding a bear fund to their portfolio.

Investing strategies used in bear funds may follow several paths. The fund may bet against the broader market by purchasing put options on an index, while simultaneously selling short futures in the same index. Another strategy is to sell specific securities short in the hope that their share values decline. Lastly, the fund may invest in securities that tend to gain value during periods of market decline, such as gold or other precious metals.

It is difficult to predict when a bear market will occur, and several of the strategies employed by bear fund managers can be volatile. Though a bear mutual fund can give investors peace of mind during turbulent times for their other investments, they should never be an investor's only holding.

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