IRELAND – Irish group pension managed funds have risen by around 19% in the past year, according to new data from consultants.

Buck Consultants found the average fund’s investment return was 19.1% in the year to the end of January 2004, while Mercer Investment Consulting put the average at 18.9%.

In January, returns were put at 2.6% by Buck and 2.7% by Mercer.

“Group pension managed fund performed well over the month of January, with the average fund returning 2.6%, as equity markets continued to rise following a return to positive returns in 2003,” said Buck’s head of investment consulting, Fiona Daly, in a note.

Over the three- year view returns were put at –4.8% by both firms.

According to Buck, the best performer over the month was Standard Life, with a 3.1% return. Mercer said Standard Life and Irish Life Global Access were joint top, with the same 3.1% return.

“Markets have opened the year on a positive note, continuing the trend of most of 2003,” said Mercer’s senior investment consultant Noel Collins. “However the gains have not been without some turbulence, and in the Irish market in particular the drop in the Ryanair share price ahs been very sudden and very significant.”

Meanwhile property research firm IPD has said that Irish property returned 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2003 – up from 3.6 in the previous quarter and the 0.2% a year before. The figure takes the annual return to 12.7% - “just below property‚s long-term 20 year average of 13.3% per annum”.