NETHERLANDS - Dutch investment funds returned 4.5% in the fourth quarter last year on the back of recovering equity markets, according to figures from the financial regulator (DNB).

Over the period, Dutch funds' equity investments returned 10.1% on average, compared with the MSCI World index's 10.7%.

The DNB attributed the strong performance of equities to growing expectations of a continuing economic recovery in the US.

But the regulator also pointed out that Dutch funds' equity returns varied significantly when broken down by geographic region.

It said North America had been the best-performing region for funds, returning 15.5%, which the DNB attributed largely to the 4.2% appreciation of the US dollar against the euro.

Asian equity was the worst performer, returning just 3.6%.

Government bonds - consisting mainly of euro-zone debt - lost 0.9%. The DNB said this was largely in line with the 1.4% drop recorded for the Iboxx Euro Sovereign index over the period.

Corporate bonds returned 1.8%.

The regulator said hedge funds reported €800m in inflows despite generating a "modest" quarterly return of 2.5%.

It attributed the inflows to investment portfolios' ongoing diversification.