Morningstar has again launched its yearly pick for the top fixed-income managers of the year. The tough criterion will again focus on how these managers delivered outstanding returns based on a sound strategy for the long term and not just on the highest returns made for the fiscal year.

Because of the perilous year for the bond markets, fund managers had a tough time "many strongly underweighted the sector given its paltry payouts and concern that a spike in yields could trigger considerable pain. Even among those active managers who were more sanguine about the Treasury market environment, few, if any, even maintained a fully neutral allocation to the sector, which comprised more than 34% of the Barclays Capital U.S. Aggregate Bond Index at the end of November," Morningstar said.

Morningstar's director for fixed income research Eric Jacobson said in a note that those who made it to the Top 5 nominees this year include a number of bond market specialists:

1. John Carlson -Fidelity New Markets Income

2. Bill Irving, Franco Castagliuolo, and Fidelity's Taxable-Bond Management Team

3. Scott Mather and PIMCO's Global Portfolio Management Team

4. Jamie Pagliocco and Fidelity's Municipal-Bond Management Team

5. Scott Simon and PIMCO's Mortgage Team

You can still cast your votes for said nominees on's site and defend your nomination. The winner will be announced in January.

Mutual funds investments

Reports gathered from the Washington-based Investment Company Institute indicated that U.S. mutual funds lost lost $9.24 billion to withdrawals in the first two weeks of December, the most in almost two months, as investors fled domestic and global stocks.

Industrywide withdrawals were the heaviest since the week ended Oct. 5, the trade group's data show. Moreover, redemptions from stock funds had been ongoing for seven consecutive months, said ICI in its report, which were primarily due to Europe's debt debacle and global economic concerns. The bulk of the redemptions have come in funds that buy U.S. stocks.

Bond funds drew $1.16 billion in investments last week. Taxable-bond funds got deposits of $709 million while municipal- bond funds won $449 million.