The median third-quarter return for the Russell/Mellon Master Trust Universe was 0.31%, up from -0.09% in the second quarter. More than 60% of the 525 institutional funds in the universe produced positive returns. Public pension plans had a median return of 0.54%; union pension plans, 0.39%; charitable foundations, 0.27%; corporate plans, 0.25%; and endowment funds, 0.15%.
Strong international and domestic bond returns helped spur performance, according to the survey. The median performance of funds' domestic bond portfolios was 3.28%, while their international bond portfolios returned 4.82%. The median Lehman Aggregate Bond portfolio returned 3.2% in the same period.
The average asset allocation among the funds was 41% domestic equity; 25% domestic bonds; 19% international equity; 5% alternatives; 4% specialized investments such as oil and gas partnerships; 3% real estate; 2% international fixed income; and 1% cash.