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In investing, the return on an asset or other investment compared to some benchmark. For example, the return on a stock may be 8% over a given period of time. This may sound rather high, but if the return on the designated benchmark index is 20% over the same period of time, then the relative return on that stock is in fact -12%. The relative return is important for determining how the return of a given stock or fund compares to that of other potential investments. This can be useful in making investment decisions.