New Jersey Pension Funds Rise 6.3% Before Payouts to Start 2012

New Jersey (STONJ1)’s pension-fund assets increased 6.3 percent before payouts in the first two months of the year, helped by stock gains, according to the state’s investment division.

After payments to beneficiaries, excluding those in the police and firefighter plans, the value rose 4.9 percent from Dec. 31 to $70.5 billion, the division said in a report presented today to the State Investment Council.

“It was definitely a stock-pickers’ market for the first two months of the year,” Timothy Walsh, director of the Division of Investment, said at a meeting in Trenton.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index of shares gained 9 percent in the first two months of 2012, including dividends.

Top gainers in the New Jersey portfolio for the calendar year through March 14 included Apple Inc. (AAPL), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM), and Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) All are among the top 10 U.S. domestic holdings. Best-performing international stocks among the top 10 such holdings were SAP AG (SAP), HSBC Holdings Plc and Vanguard ETF Emerging Markets, according to Walsh’s report.

The funds also benefited from a regulatory change allowing cash transfers between common funds and pension funds, according to the report. In January and February, the division transferred $994 million in “cash drag” to the retirement pool.

“We have been able to significantly reduce frictional cash,” the report said. “Recent cash levels have been the lowest in the history of the division.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Elise Young in Trenton at eyoung30@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Tannenbaum at mtannen@bloomberg.net

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