Late-month market dip sends TSP funds down

The three basic Thrift Savings Plan funds that have grown the most during the past year experienced setbacks in February, following a major stock market tumble at the end of the month.

The international investments represented in the 401(k)-style federal employee retirement plan's I Fund experienced a slight drop last month, falling 0.18 percent. But the fund's 21.11 percent 12-month return still remained by far the highest in the TSP.

The S Fund, which invests in small- and mid-sized companies by tracking the Dow Jones Wilshire 4500 Index, dropped 0.26 percent in February. But over the past year, it grew 12.27 percent.

The C Fund, composed of common stocks on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index of the largest domestic companies, dropped the most last month, falling 1.95 percent. But its 12-month gains were 12.05 percent.

The F Fund, which is invested in fixed-income bonds, posted the greatest gains for February, growing 1.53 percent. But its longer-term returns were much more measured; the fund earned 5.6 percent over 12 months.

Still, the F Fund's long-term growth is higher than that of the reliable and popular G Fund, which is made up of short-term Treasury securities specially issued to provide a higher return than inflation without any serious risk from market fluctuations. Last month, the G Fund grew 0.34 percent, for a 12-month gain of 4.98 percent.

The TSP also has life-cycle (L) options, which are a blend of the five basic funds that automatically grows more conservative as investors near retirement.

Of the five L funds, four experienced minor losses for February.

L 2040, intended for employees with a target retirement date around the year 2040, dropped 0.64 percent; L 2030 fell 0.49 percent; L 2020 lost 0.38 percent; and L 2010 went down 0.14 percent. The L Income Fund, designed for employees with planned retirements in the very near future, was the lone winner, with a 0.16 percent gain for the month.

All the L funds posted gains for the year. The L 2040 Fund continued to experience the most long-term growth, coming in at 13.28 percent over 12 months. L 2030 grew 12.25 percent in that time, L 2020 gained 11.34 percent, L 2010 earned 9.34 percent and L Income made 6.99 percent.

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