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Swiss pension funds see first-quarter gains wiped out by June

Swiss pension funds have seen returns from the first quarter wiped out after suffering losses led by foreign equity holdings.

The second quarter of 2015 saw losses across foreign and domestic bonds, as well as in fixed income and real estate, according to the latest Credit Suisse Pensionskassen Index.

The company said its index declined by 1.63% over the course of the three months to June, resulting in a -0.14% return for the first half of the year.

“The index essentially moved sideways in April and May,” Credit Suisse said in a statement, citing a 0.12% return in April but a loss of 0.13% the following month.

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“The fall of 1.62% in June was the major factor in the negative performance for the quarter.”

Credit Suisse said all asset classes, with exception of liquidity, saw negative returns over the course of the second quarter.

Foreign equity portfolios saw returns of -0.56%, while domestic equity performed slightly better but still recorded a loss of 0.32%.

Domestic bonds also led to a loss of 0.3%, and real estate returned -0.23%.

In a report accompanying the index, Credit Suisse noted that alternative investments nearly saw flat returns at -0.06% and therefore had a “less marked” impact.

“As in the preceding quarter, the positive contribution made by liquidity (0.18%) was due mainly to gains from current hedging programmes,” it added.

However, the report noted that liquidity reached an all-time low at the end of the second quarter, driven largely by the Swiss National Bank’s decision to introduce negative deposit rates at the beginning of the year.

As a result, liquidity only comprised 5.9% of aggregate assets, down from more than 8% two years’ prior, while alternative investments continued to rise to account for 5.5%.

The 21.3% allocated to real estate, up from 19.4%, was larger than the standalone allocations to foreign or domestic shares, which accounted for 17.4% and 13.1%, respectively.

Bonds denominated in Swiss francs also rose slightly over the last quarter to account for 25.9% of assets, while foreign currency bonds claimed the lowest share of assets in at least two years, at 7.6%.

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