Mutual funds registered for sale in Singapore posted an average loss of 36% in 2008, according to Thomson Reuters Lipper data.

All fund groups posted losses last year on-average. Equity funds led the losses, posting an average decline of 46.77% with not a single portfolio ending in positive territory, followed by commodities funds at an average loss of 34.82%. Even bond funds were not spared, losing an average of 12.78%.

In the month of December alone, however, funds in Singapore posted an average gain of 1.52%. The best performing asset class was bond funds - with an average 1.92% gain, thanks in large part to the sharp drop in bond yields across the markets. Equity funds posted an average return of 1.63% last month, which Lipper attributes to a year-end window-dressing equity rally.

The best returning equity fund in Singapore in 2008 was the Fidelity Funds - Japan Advantage A JPY, which managed to end with a marginal loss of 1.71%. Next was the Franklin Biotechnology Discovery A Fund, which lost 8.45%.

For December, the picture was brighter. The best fund group last month was gold and precious metals, which gained an average 19.95% due to the surge of gold prices. The top performing funds last month were DWS Noor Precious Metals Securities A USD and DWS Invest Gold and Precious Metals Equities LC, which gained 20.09% and 19.52%, respectively.

On the local front, Suthee Luangaramkul, a research manager at Thomson Reuters Lipper, is bearish over the near-term prospects of the Singapore market.

He notes that Singapore's economy shrank 12.5% in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter, the worst quarterly performance of the economy since 1975. The government revised down the expansion of the Singapore economy from 1% to -2% in 2009, down from the previous forecast of between -1% to +2% in November 2008.

"Weak economic fundamentals now will likely hurt the performance and profitability of listed companies and will leave the markets with no catalyst," he says.

Average performance of fund groups registered for sale in Singapore in 2008, by asset types:

  • Equity Funds -46.77%
  • Commodities -34.82%
  • Mixed-Asset Funds -28.41%
  • Hedge Funds -15.33%
  • Bond Funds -12.78%
  • Money Market Funds -2.63%
  • Protected Funds -1.49%
  • Guaranteed Funds -0.11%