- Associated Press - Monday, March 28, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Managers of New Mexico retirement and permanent investment funds say balances are recovering somewhat this month after a punishing start of the year.

Balances at funds overseen by the Public Employees Retirement Association and Educational Retirement Board fell by roughly $750 million in January, making it increasingly unlikely the funds will meet annual growth targets of more than 7 percent.

At the Public Employees Retirement Association, balances were down 5.5 percent for the first seven months of the fiscal year, ending at $13.4 billion. The association manages retirement savings for municipal, county and state employees, including police, firefighters, judges, magistrates, state lawmakers and volunteer firefighters.

Chief Investment Officer Jonathan Grabel said the losses are a reflection of global markets and not investments specific to the retirement association. The association still can readily meet obligations to its members.

“The markets have been very challenging over the last year or so,” he said, citing events including a possible global economic slowdown and divergent interest rate tactics by the U.S. Federal Reserve and European Central Bank.

The value of funds overseen by the New Mexico State Investment Council fell by $670 million, or 3.4 percent, during January and February. The council oversees nearly $20 billion, including the state’s Land Grant Permanent and Severance Tax funds that help fund public schools and infrastructure projects across the state.

The value of assets managed by the council rebounded in March from about $19.2 billion to nearly $19.8 billion as of late last week, spokesman Charles Wollmann said.

The Permanent Land Grant Fund, valued at $13.9 billion at the start of March, is receiving far less money each month than it did in recent years because of low energy prices that reduce royalties from the oil and natural gas industry, he said.

Monthly contributions from the State Land Office declined to $36 million in February, from $57 million in February 2014.

The value of funds overseen by the Educational Retirement Board declined to $10.8 billion at the end of January from $11.1 billion the previous month. The funds provide for the retirement of employees from public schools, state universities and colleges, and specialty and vocational schools.

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