The median institutional fund in the Northern Trust Universe returned 4.3% in the first quarter, driven primarily by U.S. equity markets.
Public defined benefit plans were the top performers, returning a median 5.1% in the quarter ended March 31, according to a news release from Northern Trust. Foundations and endowments returned a median 4.5% while corporate DB plans returned a median 4.2%.
Plans in the Northern Trust universe had a median U.S. equity return of 11% return for the quarter, compared to 3.8% for international equity and just under 1% for domestic fixed income. Non-U.S. bonds had a median return of zero to -1%.
Corporate plans had the highest median allocation to equities at 49%, but also had a median fixed-income allocation of 31.4%, significantly higher than 22.7% and 15% for the fixed-income allocations of public plans and foundations and endowments, respectively.
However, strong long-term fixed-income returns boosted corporate plans to the highest median one-, three- and five-year returns. Corporate plans had a median 13.6% return for the year ended March 31, followed by public plans at 10.3% and foundations and endowments, 9.2%.
The Northern Trust Universe consists of about 300 large institutional plans with combined assets of about $855 billion.