N.Y. State Pension Fund Posts 5.96% Return for Fiscal 2012

The New York State Common Retirement Fund, the third-largest U.S. public pension, earned an estimated 5.96 percent on investments in the fiscal year that ended March 31, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said.

The fund’s estimated value of $150.3 billion is the highest since fiscal 2009, when the global financial crisis began, DiNapoli said in a statement e-mailed today.

The pension fund’s investments in U.S. stocks, which account for 38 percent of its holdings, returned 6.9 percent. Fixed income, about a quarter of all investments, gained 9 percent, while private equity generated 8.3 percent and non-U.S. equities lost 6.4 percent. Real estate returned 17.6 percent.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index of stocks rose 5.7 percent in the same period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest U.S. pension, returned 1.9 percent in the nine months ending March 31, according to a summary posted on its website May 7.

“Over the last three years, the fund has experienced strong gains during a period of economic instability,” DiNapoli said in the statement. “We remain one of the strongest pension funds in the country, providing retirement security to more than 1 million New Yorkers.”

The fund had 101.5 percent of the money needed to pay its obligations in 2010, better than any other state, according to an annual study by Bloomberg Rankings. It had a 90 percent funding level at the end of fiscal 2011, Eric Sumberg, a DiNapoli spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement. New York’s pension plan provides benefits for state and local government retirees.

In September 2010, the fund lowered its assumed long-term investment rate of return to 7.5 percent from 8 percent.

-- With assistance from Michael B. Marois in Sacramento. Editors: Mark Schoifet, William Glasgall

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