Canadian pension funds had strong fourth-quarter equity performance, leading to double-digit annual returns for the second consecutive year, according to a quarterly survey from BENCHMARK, the investment analytics arm of RBC Global Services. Within the C$340 billion (US$275 billion) BENCHMARK universe, balanced portfolios returned an average 10.1% for the year and an average 5.3% for the quarter ended Dec. 31. Canadian equities, which have been the top-performing asset class for the last seven quarters, returned 15.7% in 2004 as measured by the S&P/Toronto Stock Exchange composite index. Global stock markets also had strong performance, with the MSCI World index rising 11.3% in local currency for the year. For Canadian-based investors, continued appreciation of the Canadian dollar, especially against the U.S. dollar, cut foreign equity returns to 6.5% once currency was taken into account.