Last year, 2,651 equity mutual funds outperformed the 19.5% return of the S&P 500 index, according to preliminary data from Wiesenberger. In 1998, only 687 funds beat the benchmark. The mutual fund tracker found every equity fund category finished the year in positive territory. Technology sector funds topped the return charts, with an average return of 122.9%, nearly double that of its next nearest category emerging market equity funds, which returned an average of 68.4%. The non-U.S. equity fund category followed with an average return of 51.9%, followed closely by the aggressive growth category, which returned an average of 50.9%. The worst-performing class of equity funds was equity income funds with an average return of 4.1%. Bond mutual funds posted mostly negative returns. Among the exceptions, Wiesenberger data showed, were funds in the corporate high-yield category, which returned an average of 3% and general bond funds with short or intermediate durations, which returned an average of 0.5%. The worst-performing group of bond funds were municipal high-yields, which returned an average -4.6%.