Future Fund weathers virus market fallout

The Future Fund secured a return of 4.9 per cent during the December quarter, recovering from the carnage on financial markets during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund – set up in 2006 to cover future superannuation liabilities of public servants – now stands at $171 billion.

That compares with the initial capital injection of $60.5 billion from the then Howard government.

Chair and architect of the fund Peter Costello said the result comes after an unprecedented year where markets fell by more than a third during the early months of the COVID pandemic.

“In the second half, markets staged a strong comeback,” Mr Costello, the former Howard government treasurer, said on Wednesday, delivering a quarterly update on the fund. 

“The Future Fund navigated the early market falls well, mitigating their impact on the portfolio, and performed strongly in the second half of the calendar year.”

He said markets have been supported by fiscal and monetary policy, optimism around economic recovery, and the development and deployment of vaccines.

However, he said the extent to which the public health outlook improves, the duration of lockdowns, the recovery in the economy, and the pathway to reducing support measures will impact the outlook for markets.

“Investors must also remain conscious of the potential for economic, market and geopolitical shocks, particularly given that the ability for policy makers to respond with further measures is limited,” Mr Costello said.

While the one-year return on the fund of 1.7 per cent was below the target of 4.4 per cent, the 10-year return of nine per cent compared with the target of 6.2 per cent.

The target is the consumer price index plus four to five per cent.

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