TSP fund growth slows in March

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All the funds in the Thrift Savings Plan continued their positive streak in March except the fixed income bond offering, according to the latest numbers from the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board.

The F Fund decreased 0.61 percent -- the only negative monthly return posted by any TSP fund so far this year -- after increasing slightly in February. The other offerings saw modest gains last month, after posting robust returns in January.

The C Fund, invested in common stocks on Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, rose 3.3 percent in March after climbing 4.34 percent in February. The C Fund has jumped 12.63 percent in 2012 and is up 8.6 percent from a year ago.

The TSP’s S Fund, which invests in small and midsize companies and tracks the Dow Jones Wilshire 4500 Index, also has slowed since the start of 2012. In March, it grew 2.3 percent, after increasing 3.99 percent in February and 7.59 percent in January. The S Fund has climbed 14.45 percent since January but rose only 2.4 percent in the last 12 months. The I Fund, invested in international stocks, experienced a small bump in March -- 0.13 percent -- but was sluggish compared to its positive returns of 5.36 percent in February and 5.14 percent in January. Still, the I Fund is up 10.91 percent since the beginning of the year.

The plan’s most stable offering, the government-backed securities (G) fund, posted a positive return of 0.14 percent last month.

The TSP’s life-cycle funds -- designed to move investors to less risky portfolios as they near retirement -- performed decently in March. The L Income Fund for federal employees who have reached their target retirement date and have started withdrawing money, rose 0.54 percent in March and is up 2.72 percent since January. The L 2020 gained 1.23 percent last month; the fund has increased 6.93 percent since the start of 2012. The L 2030 grew 1.49 percent and is up 8.58 percent since January; the L 2040 was up 1.68 percent in March and is up 9.85 percent so far this year; and the L 2050 was the strongest performer last month among the life-cycle funds, posting a positive return of 1.86 percent. The L 2050 has grown 11.08 percent since January.

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