CryptocurrencyInvestingBanksReal Estate

Where to Invest Now

May 20, 2016, 10:30 AM UTC

If you’re feeling less than confident about where to invest your money, welcome to the increasingly crowded club. We’ve had a volatile, disorienting 2016 so far, where every silver lining makes you painfully aware of the brooding dark cloud it’s attached to.

Take the U.S. stock market. The S&P 500 is up 14% since February. Huzzah! Or not. That leap merely pulled the market out of last winter’s China-driven slump, and since that mini-recovery it’s been back to flat. The sectors of the economy whose stocks are down this year are the powerhouses we’ve counted on for years to drive our portfolios—financial services, health care, and information technology. (Apple (AAPL)—invulnerable, impregnable Apple—reported its first year-over-year drop in quarterly revenue since 2003.) And the wobbly economy has made the Federal Reserve skittish about raising rates—extending the misery of retirees who want safe fixed-income investments.

Which asset values are rising? Arguably, the ones you’d rather see stay put. Oil prices are up 44%—good news for the suffering energy sector, a threat to everyone else. And gold, the asset bears buy when they see chaos looming, is up 22% on the year. Perhaps the gold bugs anticipate erratic fiscal populism from a future President Trump.

Whether you see today’s chaos combo platter as a sign of the apocalypse or as business as usual, you still need to know what it means for your portfolio. Some investors are pleading for help from their brokerages (we profile one such broker, back-from-disaster E*Trade). And we’ve got some helpful ideas of our own.

One interesting facet of 2016’s turmoil is that the stocks most heavily owned by hedge funds have been among the worst performers, while stocks with very little hedge ownership have thrived. When Jen Wieczner and Scott DeCarlo dug into the data, they found that the stocks that hedgers avoid have many qualities that security-seeking Main Street investors love: stable management, steady earnings growth, and commitment to meaty dividends. In this package, we recommend several stocks from the hedge-free universe. And while tech stocks are down, many tech trends still figure to become revenue-generating juggernauts, including the ever-widening adoption of electronic and mobile payments. So we’re highlighting three “fintech” stocks that capitalize on that evolution.

Whatever direction the market takes, how you invest will matter as much as where. Keeping expenses low and your strategy consistent can help you make the most of your portfolio even in years when returns are meager. We hope you’ll follow our regular coverage of all things market-related at

More from the Fortune Midyear Investor’s Guide:
When Hedge Funds Are Toxic for Stocks
6 Funds You Should Own Because Hedge Funds Don’t
3 “Hedge Fund Favorite” Stocks to Avoid
Why Starbucks Is a Hedge-Fund-Proof Stock

A version of this article appears in the June 1, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “Midyear Investor’s Guide.”