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Blow fo rpension funds

IRISH pension funds suffered billions of euro hits in August, recording their worst monthly performance in almost three years.

The average Irish group-managed pension fund reported a loss of 5.9pc of its value during the month as uncertain markets created tension for investors.

Irish Life suffered a 7.8pc drop of investors' funds and Merrion Investment Managers is now nursing double-digit losses at 10.4pc, with the average fund now worth 8.4pc less than at the end of 2010.

Just two fund managers -- Canada Life/Setanta and Standard Life Investments -- are reporting any gain for the past 12 months.

While Canada Life/Setanta recorded a 0.8pc increase and Standard Life reported a 0.2pc rise, this was not enough to offset inflation.

Together with Zurich Life, they are the only managers to report growth, on average, over the past three years, with Standard Life's 1pc gain per annum the best outcome.

The downturn last month was so severe that it has wiped out average gains in the sector over the past three years, despite a solid recovery in the sector in 2009 and 2010.