Institutional asset owners in the Northern Trust Universe returned a median 2.3% in the first quarter of 2015, the company announced on Tuesday.
Corporate pension funds had the highest rate of return for the fourth straight quarter with a median return of 2.8%, followed by public pension funds at 2.4% and foundations and endowments, 2.1%.
In the fourth quarter, corporate pension funds returned a median 2.4%, public pension funds returned a median 1.3% and foundations and endowments, 1%.
The best-performing asset class, according to Northern Trust, was international equity with a median return of 4%, followed by hedge funds and real estate with a media around 3% each; domestic equity at a median 2.2%; and fixed income at a median 1.7%.
Corporate pension funds benefited from using more longer-duration fixed-income securities than other types of asset owners, returning a median 3%, compared to public pension funds and foundation and endowments, which returned a median 1%.
Overall in the year ended March 31, corporate pension funds returned a median 8.3%; public pension funds, 7%; and foundations and endowments, 6.3%.
The universe consists of about 300 large U.S. pension funds, foundations and endowments with combined assets of about $900 billion.