TSP Returns Mostly Flat in August

How did your TSP investments perform in August? The latest monthly returns show many of the TSP funds experienced relatively little change.

In August, U.S. stocks were generally down, however, August was an unusually calm month for the stock market.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.2% for the month after going up for six months in a row. The S&P 500 broke a five-month streak of gains with a small decline as well.

The number of trades on the exchanges dropped during the month.  Stock indexes moved within a narrow trading range.

The current bull market dates to March 9, 2009 and is the second-longest on record, behind the 13-year bull market spanning from 1987 to 2000.

September is Worst Month of Year for Stocks

For those with an interest in historical perspective, September is the only month of the year in which the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been lower on average over the past 20, 50, and 100 years. No one really knows why that is the case.

Here is how the TSP stock funds have done in the past several years in September:

Year C Fund S Fund I Fund
2015 -2.47% -4.80% -5.02%
2014 -1.40% -5.10% -3.82%
2013 3.14% 5.89% 7.41%

Obviously, there are years in which stocks have a positive return in September despite the overall averages.

Uncertainty regarding the election is currently a drag on the market. “Those issues present legitimate concerns, but as time passes, they tend to be resolved one way or another, reducing ‘uncertainty,’ ” according to billionaire investor Ken Fisher, and that has allowed the market to continue going up. “[These concerns] tend to get identified, they tend to get priced in,” according to Fisher.

So, as is always the case, no one really knows how the market will perform in the next month.

TSP Returns for August, YTD and Past 12 Months

Most of the TSP funds were relatively unchanged in August, posting only very slight gains. The F Fund was the only one to post a loss for the month.

The S Fund is the winner for the year to date with a return so far of over 9%.

G Fund F Fund C Fund S Fund I Fund
Month 0.13% -0.11% 0.14% 0.80% 0.08%
YTD 1.19% 6.05% 7.85% 9.13% 1.54%
12 Month 1.90% 6.29% 12.63% 7.27% 0.30%
L Income L 2020 L 2030 L 2040 L 2050
Month 0.13% 0.16% 0.18% 0.20% 0.21%
YTD 2.61% 3.84% 4.83% 5.33% 5.70%
12 Month 3.64% 5.11% 6.25% 6.76% 7.13%

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47