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News : Irish Last Updated: Jul 7, 2011 - 8:44 AM

Irish pension funds fell in June and first half of 2011
By Finfacts Team
Jul 6, 2011 - 5:25 AM

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Irish pension managed funds lost ground during June, with an average return of -2.1% for the month. Fund returns are also down in the first half of 2011.

AIB Investment Managers took top spot with a return of -1.8% in June, while Setanta Asset Management propped up the league table with a return of -2.5%.

As a result of the falls in June, managed funds suffered a 0.7% loss on average over the second quarter of the year. Friends First/F&C and Zurich Life delivered the best performances over the three months to the end of June, with returns of -0.3%, while the worst performing managed fund over the quarter was Merrion Investment Managers’ with a decline of 1.7%. The average managed fund returned -1.5% over the first half of 2011; with returns ranging from a high of -0.1% (Irish Life Investment Managers) to a low of -3.8% (Merrion Investment Managers). Over the past twelve months the average fund returned 7.4%. Returns for the past year ranged from 10.5% (Standard Life Investments) to 3.9% (Merrion Investment Managers).

Fiona Daly, managing director of Rubicon Investment Consulting said:"The average managed fund return has been a disappointing 0.6% per annum over the past three years. The five year returns to the end of June are mostly negative, with an average return of -1.1% per annum over this period. Irish group pension managed fund returns over the past ten years have been a disappointing 0.9% per annum on average, well below the Irish inflation rate of 2.3% per annum over the same time horizon. Indeed, only one of the managed funds surveyed (that of Zurich Life) outperformed inflation over this period."

Meanwhile, the Aon Hewitt Managed Index, an index of traditional managed pension funds fell by 1.8% in June. The index has fallen by 0.54% since the start of the year.

Global equity markets sold off in June as investors anticipated the end of the quantitative easing and uncertainty about Greece mounted. Having lost as much as 5.0%, the global index rallied towards the end of the month to finish -2.3%.

The S&P 500 fell by 0.4% over the last three months --  its first quarterly decline in a year. Losses for euro based investors were accentuated by a weakening dollar.

"Equity markets are coming under pressure from a variety of factors including heightened risks of a European sovereign default and slowing US GDP," commented Brian Delaney, senior investment consultant with Aon Hewitt. "The end of the quantitative easing programme in the US could see further downward pressure as the monetary support is removed."

The second quarter saw bond spreads continue to widen for peripheral Eurozone countries, as fear of a Greek default grew. German and French yields fell as investors sought a safe haven.

"Contagion in the Eurozone remains a key risk," noted Delaney. "While the passing of the austerity budget in Greece provides some comfort, investors will seek signs that measures passed can be successfully implemented."

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