A Hot Year for Stocks, but Not for Hedge Funds

Morning Money Memo:

Returns for most middle-class savers have been strong this year. The S&P 500 index, a benchmark for many mutual funds, is at a new high after more gains in recent days. The Dow Jones Index has set new highs 35 times this year, rising 21 points yesterday and 21 percent since Jan. 1.

But many of the wealthiest investors are lagging behind those who have their money in humble low-fee index funds. For the past five years in a row the vast majority of hedge funds have failed to match the S&P. This year is no exception. "The Hennessee Hedge Fund Index has underperformed the S&P 500 in eight of the first 10 months of 2013," reports USA Today. This year the S&P is up more than 23 percent. The hedge fund index has gained less than 10 percent and they charge high management fees for their services.

The CEO of one of the largest financial corporations in the country believes it's time to change the way most Americans save for retirement. "We have to lower the overall fees charged to the average hardworking Americans' 401(k) account," says Walter Bellinger of Charles Schwab. He told the National Press Club that too many 401(k)s are failing the over 50 million Americans who purchase the plans through their employers.

The latest legal battle between Apple and Samsung is getting underway in California's Silicon Valley. Lawyers for the world's two biggest smartphone makers will start picking a jury today that will decide how much Samsung owes Apple for infringing its patents. The proceedings are just a warm-up for a much larger trial between the two companies scheduled for March.

Homeowners are doing better making their mortgage payments. Credit reporting agency TransUnion says the percentage of mortgage holders at least two months behind on their payments fell in the July-September quarter to 4.09 percent, down from 4.32 percent in the second quarter. Homeowners are benefiting from rising home values, low interest rates and stable job gains.

Ethanol production has damaged land and led to more pollution, says the findings of an Associated Press investigation that includes interviews, observations and peer-reviewed research. The push to produce corn-based ethanol as part of clean energy efforts may have led to more pollution. The consequences are so severe that environmentalists and many scientists now reject corn-based ethanol as bad environmental policy. The ethanol industry is calling the story a "smear."

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio abcnews.com Twitter: daviesnow