Denmark’s PFA group – the country’s largest commercial pensions provider – has made its highest ever investment returns in the first half of this year after Danish shares produced a profit in the period of more than 20%.

The total investment return was DKK23bn (€3.1bn) in the first six months of 2014, PFA said.

Poul Kobberup, head of bonds at PFA’s asset management arm PFA Kapitalforvaltning, said the highest return achieved in any half-year period before this had been in the first half of 2010, when the return had been DKK18.4bn.

In the first half of last year, the investment return had been close to zero, he said, because of the effect of the rise in interest rates during the period.

Since the end of this June, investment returns increased further, rising to DKK25.4bn to date.

Unit-link pensions produced returns of between 5.9% and 7.7% to date for customers in the first half compared with 3-10% in the same period last year.

The investment return for with-profits pension products was 9% on average, up from a loss of 1% suffered in the first half of 2013, when rising interest rates took their toll.

PFA’s return on shares was 9.5% in the first half, boosted in particular by a strong domestic equities market, with Danish shares rising by more than 20% in the six-month period, the pensions provider said.

Henrik Heideby, head of the PFA group, said: “At the same time, we have also had a really positive development in our alternative investments, which produced a double-digit return in the first half of the year.”

PFA’s property investments had generated a 4.3% return in the period.

Bonds returned around 5%.

“This was driven to a large degree by foreign bonds, where the portfolio has a total value of more than DKK100m,” Heideby said.

In turn, foreign bond returns were lifted mainly by the exposure to emerging markets, as well as good performance in the underlying portfolios, which returned almost 7% in the first half.