In Brief: Nov. 8, 1999

BLUE-SKY INVESTING Your mutual-fund manager may start betting on the weather, literally. This month two energy firms are expected to issue some $100 million in "weather bonds," whose returns are based solely on average temperatures. These new bonds, rated in the BB range, allow weather-sensitive businesses--utilities, ski resorts--to hedge against losses caused by extreme temperatures. If Mother Nature behaves, holders can expect 10% to 30% returns; but a mild winter or scorching summer could melt profits and principal. On another front, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange started trading weather futures in September. Along with pork bellies, plungers can now bet on the...

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