Employer pension plans’ assets hits $1.97 trillion: Stats Can

The market value of assets held by Canadian trusteed pension plans hit $1.97 trillion in the first quarter of 2019, an increase of five per cent from the last quarter of 2018, according to new data from Statistics Canada.

Year over year, the market value of assets rose 3.6 per cent.

The total includes assets of pension plans under a trust agreement, held by a pension corporation or fund society, those administered under federal or provincial legislation and those held by an insurance company purely for investment management.

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The survey found short-term investments, including short-term corporate bonds, banker’s acceptances, treasury bills and commercial paper, showed the strongest growth, increasing 10.2 per cent, to $82.4 billion, compared to the previous quarter.

Mortgage investments increased 6.3 per cent from the previous quarter to $23.6 billion. Investments in bonds grew six per cent, to reach $631.4 billion.

Domestic holdings, which totalled more than $1.2 trillion, were up 6.4 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2018, with every type of Canadian asset seeing an increase. Canadian bond investments were up 7.6 per cent, stocks were up 4.4 per cent, short-term assets were up 10.4 per cent and other assets increased 5.2 per cent. Overall, domestic assets grew 5.7 per cent year-over-year.

Meanwhile, the amount of foreign assets owned by Canadian plans also grew, but more modestly, at 2.6 per cent overall from the previous quarter. Their value now sits at $713.7 billion, representing 36.5 per cent of total assets in the first quarter.

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Foreign bonds, however, decreased four per cent in the first quarter, with foreign stock holdings remaining flat. Foreign pooled funds increased by 8.3 per cent, as did short-term assets, at 7.1 per cent.

Pension funds’ net incomes increased 52.6 per cent in the first quarter of 2019, to $26.3 billion, compared to the last quarter of 2018, and rose by 31 per cent year-over-year. Funds’ revenues dropped 3.5 per cent in the quarter, while expenditures also declined by 32.3 per cent.

The sale of securities was the primary reason for the net income increase, noted Statistics Canada. Profits on those sales increased 58.2 per cent to $20 billion in the first quarter, while losses from sales dropped 98.7 per cent, to $110 million.

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