Two reports issued today showed reduced investment losses for institutional investors in the first quarter and better funded status for corporate pension plans last month.
The median master trust in the Wilshire Trust Universe Comparison Service returned -5.53% for the quarter, up 7.3 percentage points from the previous quarter, and -24.71% for the year ended March 31, a 0.17-percentage-point gain from a year earlier.
The median corporate plan returned -6.31% for the quarter and -26.0% for the year ended March 31; the median public pension plan, -5.92% and -25.93%; median foundation and endowment, -4.78% and -25.71%; and median Taft-Hartley fund, -5.14% and -22.66%.
The U.S. stock market posted a disappointing -10.56% return in the first quarter of 2009, its sixth consecutive down quarter and the longest such streak in the 28-year history of the Wilshire 5000 Index, Hilarie C. Green, managing director and head of Wilshire Analytics Performance Reporting division, said in a news release.
However, the news wasnt all bad during the quarter, as U.S. stocks advanced 8.7% in March, which was the Wilshire 5000s largest monthly return since December 1991, she said. From its low on March 9, the market rallied an impressive 18.45% to close the quarter. Had it not been for this upswing, the Wilshire TUCS numbers we are reporting today would have dipped further into negative territory.
In a separate report, the funded status of Towers Perrins hypothetical benchmark pension plan increased 5.5 percentage points in April to 69.2%, according to a news release.
While the March-April upturn served to erase approximately one-third of the gap in funding that emerged during the first six months of the capital market crisis, Aprils level still represents a decline of more than 20 percentage points over the past 12 months, the Towers Perrin news release said.