International Fund Tops TSP Fund Returns in March

The I fund finished ahead of other TSP funds in March and for the first quarter of the year.

The I fund (international stocks) came out ahead of all other Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) funds in March. The I fund had a rate of return of 2.85% in March.

This fund is also up 7.35% for the year-to-date and 12.12% for the last 12 months. While the I fund has been a laggard compared to the other TSP stock funds in recent months and years,  it is now leading all of the other TSP funds for the year-to-date as well as the leading fund in March.

This turnaround is why some investment advisors urge diversification among different types of stocks. While foreign stocks do not always go in a different direction from domestic stocks, there are times when international stocks fare better. Having some investment funds in the I fund is advantageous in months such as March where this has occurred.

The G fund is the fund with the most assets for TSP investors. As usual, it had a positive return for March (0.20%) and returned 1.92% over the past twelve months. The G fund is also the fund with the lowest rate of return of any TSP fund in the first quarter of 2017. (Also see Are You One of the TSP Millionaires?)

Here are the returns for all of the TSP funds for March, the year to date and for the past 12 months.

Latest Rates of Return for All TSP Funds

G Fund F Fund C Fund S Fund I Fund
Month 0.20% -0.01% 0.12% -0.08% 2.85%
YTD 0.59% 0.93% 6.07% 4.57% 7.35%
12 Months 1.92% 0.71% 17.20% 22.53% 12.12%


L Income L 2020 L 2030 L 2040 L 2050
Month 0.33% 0.48% 0.64% 0.71% 0.78%
YTD 1.73% 2.91% 4.13% 4.73% 5.28%
12 Months 4.72% 8.03% 11.06% 12.67% 14.21%

Factors Driving Stock Prices

According to the Wall Street Journal, the S&P 500 (the index on which the C fund is based), has just completed the least volatile quarter since 1967. This may mean that investors are waiting to see how proposals impacting the economy play out in Congress. There is uncertainty over whether the Trump administration will be able to move out with pro-business economic agenda. Companies that usually grow with the economy, such as large technology and internet companies, fared better in March and in the first quarter than financial stocks and industrial companies.

The political  uncertainty was highlighted in March with the inability of Congress to pass a new health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act (more commonly known as Obamacare).

Also, stocks around the world went up quite a bit in the first quarter of 2017. That, of course, is why the I fund has done so well in 2017 with a year-to-date return of 7.35%

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