TSP returns disappoint in November

November was a fairly dismal month for Thrift Savings Plan returns with all but three funds posting in the red.

After an above-average October in which the C Fund, invested in common stocks of large companies on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, jumped 10.93 percent, November was a disappointment. The fund lost 0.21 percent last month and has gained 7.82 percent during the past 12 months. The I Fund, invested in international stocks, dropped the most, falling 2.46 percent in November and is down 2.67 percent over the past year. Since January, the I Fund has decreased 9.98 percent, likely due to the ongoing debt crisis in Europe.

The L Income, G and F funds all posted positive returns. L Income, the fund for federal employees who have reached their target retirement date and have started withdrawing money, rose 0.02 percent, and the stable government securities (G) fund increased 0.14 percent. The F Fund, which invests in fixed-income bonds, was in the black for the fifth consecutive month, edging up 0.01 percent. During the past year, the F Fund has increased 5.68 percent; the G Fund is up 2.51 percent and the L Income Fund rose 3.55 percent.

The other life-cycle funds, designed to move investors to less risky portfolios as they get closer to retirement, saw losses in November, as did the S Fund, which invests in small and midsize companies and tracks the Dow Jones Wilshire 4500 Index. The S Fund dipped 0.51 percent, after a big jump of 14.09 percent in October. The L 2050 dropped 0.78 percent in November; L 2040 declined 0.62 percent; L 2030 lost 0.49 percent; and L 2020 decreased 0.34 percent. During the past year, however, all the life-cycle funds and the S Fund have posted positive returns. Year-to-date data and figures for the past 12 months of the L 2050 Fund were unavailable.

TSP returns, particularly for the C, S, and I funds, have been volatile throughout 2011.

The Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board reported last month that TSP participation rate for federal employees ws strong at 85.4 percent, while participation for military members was 39.3 percent, despite fewer enrollees from the reserves.

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