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Lithuanian pension assets return more than 4% over first half

first_imgLithuania’s voluntary second-pillar pension funds have almost equalled last year’s investment returns during the first six months of 2014, according to figures from the Bank of Lithuania (BoL), the country’s pensions regulator.All 26 funds made positive returns, with an overall average of 4.1% for the period, compared with an average 4.3% for calendar 2013.The highest average return – 4.7% – came from the riskiest funds, investing between 70% and 100% in equities.Thereafter, average returns decreased in line with risk. Medium equity exposure funds (30-60%) generated 4.41%, and low exposure funds (up to 30%) 4.12%.Conservative bond funds (no equities) returned only 2.16%.The figures mirror the funds’ average annual returns over the past three years, with an average 6.12%, 6%, 5.85% and 3.31%, respectively, for the four risk categories.Audrius Šilgalis, senior specialist at the BoL’s financial services and markets analysis division, said: “While the first half of 2014 was erratic for investors, nearly all pension funds achieved a positive return on investment in the first half-year and increased the assets of participants.”According to the BoL, two-thirds of second-pillar pension fund portfolios – approximately LTL4bn (€1.1bn) – was invested in euro-denominated assets, while 15.9% of portfolios were invested in litas.Šilgalis said: “Most of the assets of pension funds and collective investment undertakings have been invested in euros, hence the adoption of the euro in Lithuania [on 1 January 2015] is likely to significantly reduce the currency conversion and transaction costs incurred by these entities, which provides the basis for fund participants to seek higher returns.”Meanwhile, the rate of increase in second-pillar assets also outstripped last year’s exceptional rate of growth, climbing by LTL496.41m over the period, to reach LTL5.94bn at end-June.Around 60% of the increase in fund assets came from contributions, with the rest from investment performance.Membership was also up, though at a slower pace than last year, rising by 17,301 (1.55%) to 1.13m.Last year, changes were introduced in the second-pillar contribution system.Participants had to choose whether to continue paying the standard contribution of 2% of salary, save the maximum amount allowed or stop making contributions.As from 2014, those who have opted to save the maximum now pay an additional 1% into their pension fund, while the state adds a subsidy of 1% of average monthly earnings.From 2016, the additional contributions will rise to 2% of salary, while the state subsidy will also rise to 2%.From 2020, the standard contribution rate will rise to 3.5% of salary.last_img read more

New Orleans shows its spirit

first_img A threat of thunderstorms Saturday prompted a one-day delay of the Krewe of Endymion’s parade, which was set to follow the Krewe of Bacchus through the Uptown neighborhood on Sunday night. Three smaller parades were held in the afternoon. The sunny weather and party atmosphere provided a sense of optimism for New Orleans six months after Katrina flooded 80 percent of the city and dispersed more than two-thirds of the population. “I just hope the rest of the world doesn’t think New Orleans is OK because we’re having Mardi Gras,” said Cynthia Perkins, who lost her home in the flood. While some decried the city’s plan to hold Mardi Gras celebrations while tens of thousands of residents were displaced, Ebony Jenkins, who lost home, car and possessions in the flood, was in a festive mood nonetheless. “My take on it is: Let it roll,” she said as she waited for floats and masked riders to fill the street and shed a rain of doubloons and beads on the throngs. – Associated Press 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant While some revelers noted crowds so deep that people could barely move, they were thinner than in years past. Velasquez said her business was down by at least half. “What can you expect, it’s Katrina!” she said. Pat Kaschalk, a teacher in New Orleans, estimated the crowds at three-quarters of the usual numbers. “It was actually possible to catch something this year,” she said. “We were able to get close to the floats and make eye contact with the riders. Normally we wouldn’t be able to do that.” New Orleans children sat atop ladders yelling for beads and other trinkets Sunday as two of the Carnival season’s biggest and glitziest parades rolled through this fun-starved city. By nightfall, the warm, sunny weather had chilled a bit, but that didn’t stop the crowds – old, young and of all races – from partying. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which flooded most of the city last summer, people seemed a bit nicer – and less apt to lace their words with profanities – than in previous years, an annual vendor said. “Before, the people were more aggressive; now I see there is more passion, more calm,” said Miryan Velasquez, 60, who sells alligator on hot dog buns, lemonade and shrimp po-boys, a quintessential New Orleans sandwich on French bread. last_img read more