Institutional asset owners in the Northern Trust universe posted a median return of 0.2% in the third quarter, after returning 6% in the second quarter, data released Wednesday showed.
The flat median performance was the result of volatile equity markets in September that erased strong gains in July and August, a news release announcing the data said.
Before the gains were erased in September, "positive market returns were the result of the ongoing resilient economic recovery, continued support by the Federal Reserve, and strong corporate earnings," said Amy Garrigues, Northern Trust's global head of investment risk and analytical services, in the news release.
For the quarter ended Sept. 30, the Northern Trust domestic equity program universe returned a median -0.1%; while the domestic fixed-income program universe returned a median 0.1%, with high-yield bonds returning 0.9% or more during the third quarter.
Foundations and endowments performed the best among plan types with a median return of 0.9% for the three months ended Sept. 30, followed by public defined benefit plans at 0.4% and corporate DB plans with a flat 0.0%.
For the one, three and five years ended Sept. 30, foundations and endowments in Northern Trust's universe returned a median annualized 25.3%, 11.6% and 11.2%, respectively; public pension funds, 20.8%, 10.1% and 10.2%; and corporate pension plans, 13%, 11.1% and 9.6%.
The Northern Trust universe consists of 380 U.S. institutional funds with combined assets of more than $1.4 trillion.