TSP weathers a bleak January

The most reliable fund in the Thrift Savings Plan posted minimal gains in January, while the rest lost ground.

The international investments represented in the 401(k)-style federal employee retirement plan's I Fund experienced the steepest losses for the month, falling 11.93 percent. The fund also posted 12-month losses of 44.57 percent.

The C Fund, composed of common stocks on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index of the largest domestic companies, dropped 8.41 percent in January. It declined a total of 38.62 percent during the past 12 months.

The S Fund, which invests in small- and mid-size companies by tracking the Dow Jones Wilshire 4500 Index, dropped 8.19 percent in January. The fund also posted losses of 39.58 percent for the year.

The F Fund, which invests in fixed-income bonds, reported minimal losses for January, falling 0.86 percent. The fund posted long-term gains, however, earning 2.74 percent in 12 months.

The G Fund -- short-term Treasury securities specially issued to provide a higher return than inflation without any serious risk from market fluctuations -- grew 0.19 percent in January. Its 12-month gain was 3.61 percent.

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

L 2040, intended for employees with a target retirement date around the year 2040, dropped 7.67 percent; L 2030 fell 6.69 percent; L 2020 lost 5.58 percent; and L 2010 tumbled 2.61 percent. The L Income Fund, designed for employees with planned retirements in the very near future, lost 1.74 percent in January.

All the L funds also posted losses during the past year. The L 2040 Fund took the hardest hit, falling 33.19 percent over 12 months. L 2030 plunged 29 percent during that time; L 2020 dropped 24.12 percent, L 2010 lost 11.02 percent and L Income declined 5.83 percent.

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