KUALA LUMPUR: The Employees Provident Fund recorded a gross investment income of RM17.33bil in the third quarter ended Sept 30, 2020, which was 28.37% higher than RM13.5bil recorded in the same quarter last year.On a quarter-on-quarter basis, it was a 14.6% improvement from RM15.12bil in the immediate preceding quarter.For the quarter under review, the retirement fund said equities contributed RM7.29bil or 42% to the total gross investment income while fixed income instruments contributed RM8.18bil.This was followed by real estate and infrastructure contributing RM1.63bil, and RM230mil from money market instruments.Net investment income after impairment and cost write down for listed equities came in at RM16.87bil."This year has seen great volatility in the financial markets which saw very rapid movements from one extreme to the other."Our financial positions over the first three quarters have been affected by the volatility in market sentiments exacerbated by the uncertainties of the Covid-19 pandemic and continued fragile consumer sentiments," said Chief EPF officer Alizakri Alias in a statement.The EPF said the global equity indices that the EPF tracks closely have rebounded from their lowest in March, but many have yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels seen at the end of 2019.It added that the widespread drop in yields has provided opportunity for the EPF to increase trading activities and capitalise gain, but it is cautious of the lower reinvestment yield and remains careful in ensuring that the long-term health of the portfolio is not jeopardised.As at end-September 2020, the EPF’s investment assets stood at RM941.77bil, of which 68% was allocated to the domestic market while 32% was allocated to the overseas markets, which contributed 45% to gross investment income for the third quarter.By asset class, fixed income instruments made up 49% of investments while equities comprised 39%. Money market instruments and real estate and infrastructure made up 7%and 5% respectively of investments."While we remain guided by our SAA, much really depends on rapid and effective responses to the COVID-19 pandemic that must address the massive impact to the economy and ensuring the continuity of businesses, jobs and lives," said Alizakri.He added that infections are rising again even as economies struggle to recover from lockdown, creating a serious impediment to economic recovery to pre-pandemic levels.As such, the EPF expects interest rates to remain lower for longer as central banks continue to ease monetary policy to support their respective economies.Alizakri noted that the continued uncertainties will impact external demand for Malaysia, which is a trade-dependent country.This could then affect the job landscape and curb domestic economic activities, he said."Throughout this very challenging year, we remain steadfast in our commitment to helping our members achieve a better future and also safeguard their long term retirement savings by preserving capital and safely riding through this volatile period."This will be achieved by always ensuring profits generated from our investments are done in a healthy and sustainable manner with prudent write down and impairment measures being proactively practiced at all times,” he added.
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