N.J. Pension Funds Earn 11.8% in Fiscal 2013 on Stocks

New Jersey’s public pensions returned 11.8 percent for the 12 months ended June 30, led by a surge in global stock prices.

The system, with 770,000 active contributors and retirees in seven pension funds, had $73.3 billion in assets as of Aug. 31, according to a state Investment Division report. The figures exclude returns from a fund for police and firefighter mortgages.

The 11.8 percent gain follows an increase of 2.5 percent in fiscal 2012. New Jersey’s fund performance, based on six-year annualized returns, was 3.94 percent. That makes it the best-performing U.S. public pension fund among similar plans, according to an analysis by the investment division.

``We were way more defensively postured" in comparison to other funds' holdings, said Bob Grady, chairman of the State Investment Council, at its meeting in Trenton today ``This just shows the division's done a very good job. It's a great chart."

New Jersey’s system outperformed teachers’ funds in Texas and Ohio, with returns of 3.41 percent and 3.08 percent, respectfully, and the teachers and public-pension plans in California, with returns of 2.44 percent and 1.86 percent, according to the six-year analysis.

For the most recent fiscal year, New Jersey’s pensions earned 17.2 percent on domestic and international equity holdings. The Federal Reserve’s third round of stimulus, coupled with economic data showing improvements and housing gains, drove the Standard Poor’s 500 Index up 18 percent in the same 12-month period.

New Jersey’s pension funds lost 1.22 percent in August, after a 2.37 percent gain in July. Estimated performance for the year started July 1 was 1.13 percent, and for the calendar year to date, 5.95 percent.

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