UK - Russell/Mellon CAPS has estimated that overall UK pension fund returns for 2003 was 15.8% - which it called the best return since 1999.

“This is the best return for pension funds since 1999 and follows on from three consecutive years of negative performance,” the company said.

Last month’s HSBC Actuaries and Consultants’ IMAGE survey put returns for the first 11 months at +15%.

Russell/Mellon CAPS says the three-year return is –2.8%. Over five years, pension funds overall still managed to achieve a positive return of 1.8%, it said. But this was less that retail price inflation for the same period.

“Over 10 years, pension fund returns have averaged 6.3% pa,” Russell/Mellon CAPS said.

The returns in 2003 was driven by global equity markets, it added.

“After a slow start to the year, with poor equity performance in the first quarter, the markets have rallied well,” said Daniel Hall, Russell/Mellon CAPS’ publications and statistics manager.

“Following on from the disappointing returns in the last three years, these results are great news for pension funds.”