Retirement funds improve some at the end of 2011

International investments and those in small and midsize companies continue to lose ground.

December 2011 saw modest gains for several of the Thrift Savings Plan offerings, though two funds remained in the red for the month and the year.

After a rough November in which the C Fund, invested in common stocks of large companies on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, fell 0.21 percent, the fund gained 1.04 percent last month and finished in the black in 2011, at 2.11 percent. The F Fund, which invests in fixed-income bonds, posted a 1.01 percent gain in December and the largest year-end increase at 7.89 percent. The G Fund, or government securities fund, also finished both December and 2011 strong, growing 0.15 percent for the month and 2.45 percent for the year.

The I Fund, invested in international stocks, had a much weaker showing, falling 2.03 percent in December and 11.81 in 2011 overall -- the most of any of the TSP's funds. The S Fund, which invests in small and midsize companies and tracks the Dow Jones Wilshire 4500 Index, also finished 2011 in the red: It slid 3.38 percent over 12 months and 0.04 percent in December.

The TSP's life-cycle funds, designed to move participants to less risky portfolios as they inch closer to retirement, came in with mixed results. L Income, the fund for federal employees who have reached their target retirement date and have started withdrawing money, saw a 0.20 percent gain in December and finished 2011 with a 2.23 percent gain. L 2020 finished December with an 0.11 percent uptick and ended 2011 with a 0.41 percent gain. L 2030 increased 0.09 percent in December but was down 0.31 percent in 2011; L 2040 posted a 0.07 percent gain in December and a 0.96 dip in 2011.

The L 2050 Fund lost 0.01 percent in December. Year-to-date figures for the L 2050 were unavailable because it opened less than a year ago.