EUROPE - European pension funds' financial assets have increased slightly over the first quarter, rising from €1.35trn in Q4 2010 to €1.37trn, according to the European Central Bank (ECB).

The ECB - which has published aggregate data for insurance corporations and pension funds for the second time - said pension funds' total financial assets amounted to €1.37trn as of 31 March, representing 20% of the sample's overall assets.

According to the new data, at the end of March, the total financial assets of euro-zone insurance corporations and pension funds were €60bn higher than in December 2010.

The report also found out that, over the same period, the insurance technical reserves, which are the main liabilities of insurance corporations and pension funds, increased to €5.97bn from €5.89bn, due to positive transactions.

The net equity of households in pension fund reserves has increased from €1.65bn at the end of December 2010 to €1.67bn at the end of March, with 34 transactions recorded in total during the first quarter.

Pension funds divided their investments in the following vehicles and asset classes:

•    Currency and deposits €198bn (€192bn in Q4 2010)
•    Loans €69bn (€73bn in Q4 2010)
•    Securities other than shares €301bn (€290bn in Q4 2010)
•    Shares and other equity €144bn (€150bn in Q4 2010)
•    Investment fund shares/units €581bn (€568bn in Q4 2010)
•    Money market fund shares €5bn (€6bn in Q4 2010)
•    Prepayments of insurance premiums and reserves for outstanding claims €26bn (€26bn in Q4 2010)
•    Other accounts receivable/payable and financial derivatives €43bn (€41bn in Q4 2010)
•    Non-financial assets €38bn (€37bn in Q4 2010)

The ECB published aggregated data for various financial vehicles in the euro-zone, including insurance companies and pension funds, for the first time last month.

At that time, the ECB stressed that the statistics covered only those pension funds that were institutional units separate from the units that created them - or those pension funds that have "autonomy of decision-making and keep a complete set of accounts".