Institutional investors gained about 3.3% in the third quarter, said recent data from BNY Mellon and Wilshire Associates.
Plans in the BNY Mellon U.S. Master Trust Universe returned a median 3.33% in the quarter ended Sept. 30, marking the eighth consecutive quarter of positive performance and up from a median 3.19% in the second quarter,
By plan type, public defined benefit plans posted the highest median quarterly return in BNY Mellon's universe at 3.55%, followed by foundations, 3.46%; endowments, 3.32%; Taft-Hartley plans, 3.26%; corporate DB plans, 3.16%; and health-care plans, 3.01%.
"Public pensions benefited from a higher allocation to non-U.S. equity investments vs. other plan types, 19.82% vs. 16.15% for the master trust universe as a whole," said Frances Barney, head of global risk solutions at BNY Mellon, in a news release on the results.
Non-U.S. equities returned a median 6.07% for the universe for the quarter; U.S. equities, 4.53%; non-U.S. fixed income, 2.85%; real estate, 1.88%; and U.S. fixed income, 1.15%.
"Health-care plan performance lagged other plan types due to lower allocations to non-U.S. equity, while all asset classes continued to post positive results on a one-year basis in the third quarter," Ms. Barney added.
For the 12 months ended Sept. 30, the BNY Mellon U.S. Master Trust Universe returned a median return of 11.82%. Endowments posted the highest median return for the year at 12.52%, followed by public DB plans, 12.4%; foundations, 12.39%; Taft-Hartley plans, 11.86%; health-care plans, 10.85%; and corporate plans, 10.38%.
Non-U.S. equities were also the top-performing asset class for the year, returning a median 19.78% for the universe, followed by U.S. equity, 18.58%; and real estate, 7.94%.
For the three, five and 10 years ended Sept. 30, BNY Mellon's universe returned a median annualized 6.69%, 8.26% and 5.42%, respectively.
Meanwhile, plans in the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service returned a median 3.25% in the third quarter, up from a median 2.88% in the second quarter.
The third quarter also marks the eighth consecutive quarter of positive returns for all plan types, which is the longest stretch since the 14 consecutive positive quarters ended June 1998.
Public DB plans also posted the highest median quarterly return in Wilshire's universe at 3.45%, followed by foundations and endowments, 3.38%; Taft-Hartley DB plans, 3.23%; corporate DB plans, 3.06%; and Taft-Hartley health and welfare funds, 2.03%.
"In the third quarter, only Taft-Hartley health and welfare funds experienced median returns worse than the 60/40 portfolio, which returned 3.01%" said Robert J. Waid, managing director at Wilshire Associates, in a news release on the results. "This pulled the median return for all plan types down slightly to 3.25%, but it remained above the 60/40 portfolio for the third consecutive quarter."
For the year ended Sept. 30, the TUCS universe returned a median 11.4%, the highest one-year return since the 12 months ended June 30, 2014, which saw a median 15.51% return. Public DB plans in Wilshire's universe posted the highest median return for the year ended Sept. 30 at 12.41%, followed by foundations and endowments, 11.78%; Taft-Hartley DB plans, 11.53%; corporate DB plans, 9.73%; and Taft-Hartley health and welfare funds, 7.15%.
By asset class, the MSCI World ACWI ex-U.S. posted the highest quarterly and one-year returns at 6.16% and 19.61%, respectively. The Wilshire 5000 Total Market index, meanwhile, returned 4.59% and 18.89%, over those periods, respectively, and the Wilshire Bond index, 0.63% and 0.96%.
Longer term, for the three, five and 10 years ended Sept. 30, the TUCS universe returned a median annualized 6.45%, 8.01% and 5.54%, respectively.
The BNY Mellon U.S. Master Trust Universe consists of 731 corporate, foundation, endowment, public, Taft-Hartley and health-care plans with an average plan size of $5.4 billion.
Wilshire TUCS includes more than 1,200 plans with more than $3.6 trillion in assets combined.