TSP funds continue to slide in October

The Thrift Savings Plan weathered another difficult month in October as every fund except the government securities option lost ground.

The G Fund -- the plan's most stable offering -- rose 0.31 percent in October, following a 0.31 percent increase in September. The fund is up 3.18 percent since January and 3.95 percent since October 2007. It is the only offering that has posted positive returns in 2008, and one of only two funds to make gains during the past 12 months.

The only other fund that is up since October 2007 is the F Fund, a portfolio of fixed-income bonds. That offering has grown 0.52 percent in the past 12 months, though it fell 2.4 percent in October and is down 1.59 percent for 2008.

The S Fund, which invests in small- and mid-size U.S. companies and tracks the Dow Jones Wilshire 4500 Index, posted the largest October loss: its value fell 20.99 percent. The fund is down 33.69 percent since the beginning of 2008, and 37.69 percent for the past 12 months. The international (I) fund, which invests in European, Asian and Australian companies and suffered the largest losses of any TSP fund in September, was close behind the S Fund in October, falling 20.59 percent. The I Fund has dropped 42.67 percent in 2008 and 46.05 percent since October 2007. Those are the largest 2008 and 12-month losses of any TSP offering.

The C Fund, which tracks Standard & Poor's 500 Index, was down 16.83 percent in October, and 32.84 percent since the beginning of 2008. The fund has fallen 36.08 percent since October 2007.

All the life-cycle funds, which make riskier but more aggressive investments for younger workers and shift to more conservative allocations as employees approach retirement, lost more in October than in September. The L 2040 Fund fell 15.4 percent, the L 2030 Fund lost 13.4 percent, the L 2020 Fund dropped 11.1 percent, the L 2010 Fund slid 5.41 percent and the L Income Fund for investors closest to retirement fell 3.44 percent.

Those losses deepened the overall declines for the life-cycle funds both in 2008 and for the past 12 months. The L 2040 Fund is down 29.82 percent in 2008 and 32.73 for the past year, the L 2030 Fund is down 26.11 percent in 2008 and 28.73 percent for the past 12 months. The L 2020 Fund has declined 21.83 percent since the beginning of the year and 24.06 since October 2007. The L 2010 Fund is down 10.57 percent this year and 11.77 percent from the same time a year ago, while the L Income Fund has fallen 5.43 percent in 2008 and 5.78 percent during the past 12 months.

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