US investments push Varma returns to 7.1%

first_imgThe average nominal return on investments over the past 10 years is now 5.5% per year.Varma said its investment returns developed strongly during the first half of the year, but uncertainty in investment markets caused the result to fluctuate considerably during the second half.The last quarter in particular was very turbulent.Reima Rytsölä, CIO at Varma, said: “The investment result was improved by a fairly strong focus on the US markets. Instead of a stagnant Europe, we were involved in a growing economy.”Returns were generated consistently across the different asset classes.Equities – which make up 41% of the portfolio, including 32% in listed stocks and 6% in private equity – were the best performers, with a 9.1% return (21.8% in 2013).The decline in interest rates ensured the return on fixed income investments was also good, at 5.5% (compared with 1.2% in 2013).At end-2014, fixed income made up 30% of investments.Returns were also boosted by hedge fund investments, which returned 7.8%, compared with 8.8% in 2013.The weighting had been increased early in 2014, taking the allocation to 17% by end-2014, compared with 13% the previous year.Real estate returned 3.8% over 2014, increasing from 3.1% the year before. The asset class made up 10% of the portfolio at end-2014.Rytsölä said: “It is realistic to expect lean times for investors. Interest rates are hovering around zero, and if economic growth does not pick up, the return on equities might also remain modest.”The company warned that the economic environment remained challenging for Finland.It said the change in the value of the euro and the drop in the price of oil would promote growth this year and next.But growth forecasts remain moderate with respect to recent history, and for investors, the interest rates especially are dramatically low.Risto Murto, president and chief executive at Varma, said: “We are used to a situation where low interest rates reflect a strong economy and stable currency, but that is not the case now. The record-low interest rate levels indicate economic problems, not strengths.”Meanwhile, during 2014, the company wrote premiums totalling €4.3bn and paid pensions of €5bn. Varma Mutual Pension Insurance, Finland’s largest earnings-related pension insurer and private investor, has announced a return on investments for calendar 2014 of 7.1% (€2.7bn), taking its solvency to a record high level.By the end of last year, its investment portfolio had reached €40bn – again, a record high – from €37.7bn the year before, while solvency capital was at €10.3bn, compared with €9.1bn at end-2013.This meant solvency capital amounted to 34% of technical provisions (31.6% in 2013).However, returns were lower than the previous year’s €3.2bn (9%).last_img read more

Kyle Busch talks 200th win, hot start to season, what’s next

first_img NASCAR at Richmond: Odds, prediction, sleepers, drivers to watch for Toyota Owners 400 “The guys at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) having been building us fast cars, so we are good when we unload at the track,” he said. “Then Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the guys have really done a nice job of working through practices and getting our cars better throughout the weekend and also making the calls on race day to put us in a position to win.”He continued: “My guys on pit road have been so good, especially at places like Martinsville and Bristol, where track position was really important where they gained us those spots and put us in a better position at the end of the race. I think you need everything to be successful and we have that going on right now and hope we can keep it going, it’s obviously been a great start to the season for us.”Busch will go for his fourth win in the Cup Series and seventh in his career at Richmond Raceway at the Toyota Owners 400 this week. He will take the weekend off from Xfinity Series racing. Kyle Busch has been unstoppable to start the year, winning 10 races — including three Cup events — across the NASCAR national series.In the process, he passed Richard Petty’s all-time wins record with a victory in the TruNorth Global 250 Gander Outdoors race in the Truck Series on March 23. “Being close to 100 on Xfinity, that’s what I said I’d quit at. The Truck stuff, being in the 50s, I’d love to be able to continue on with that, race my trucks. I like that, working with my guys, my team, my company. On the Cup side, as well, too. Somebody asked me, ‘Is 100 a number?’ Sure, we’ll set the next number on the Cup side at 100. It’s going to be hard to get there, no question about that. You might as well set your goals high, go out there and strive to achieve them.”With his 200th win, Busch also had some fun. Along with Omaze, he is giving fans a chance to join him as a VIP guest as another pretty cool opportunity.”We’re partnering with Omaze to fly one lucky fan and a friend out to North Carolina to drive with me in a new 2018 Toyota Camry Rowdy Edition II,” Busch said. “They get VIP passes for the Coca-Cola 600 and (my wife) Samantha will give them a behind-the-scenes tour at the track. And, of course, the coolest thing is they’ll get to take home the car.”He continued: “Proceeds from the campaign will support The Samantha and Kyle Busch Bundle of Joy Fund, which helps couples who are struggling to conceive a child and advocates for infertility education and awareness. Fans can visit Omaze.com/ROWDY until May 6 to enter for their chance to win and help us raise funds for something that’s very near and dear to our family.”There’s some time before the Coca-Cola 600, but in the weeks leading up to the event Busch has been the hottest driver in all series so far this season. He has won all four Truck races he has entered, three of the four he has been in on the Xfinity side and, of course, the three Cup events.But beyond that, he has finished outside of the top six just once in all of his races and even that finish was a top 10. And he may very well have four wins in the Cup Series had he not been caught for a speeding violation at Las Vegas Motor Speedway when he had a lead.Busch has been running very well, but he says his success is far more than about how he has been driving. He now sits at 202 wins all time, as he took home a victory in the Xfinity Series in Texas and another at Bristol Motor Speedway last week, and he has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.“I think anything beyond the recent 200 is just another number,” Busch told Omnisport this week. “I mean, I could go lightly and say 250, or I could reach for the stars and say 300.  What’s wrong with that? Related Newslast_img read more

Former Pitt star Smith to play with Rodman in N. Korea

first_imgIn this May 20, 1994, file photo, New York Knicks Charles Smith (54) tries to drive past Chicago Bulls’ Scottie Pippen during Game 6 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal in Chicago. (AP Photo/John Swart, File)Dennis Rodman has named a team of former NBA players including former Pitt and NBA star Charles Smith to participate in an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang, North Korea.Rodman leads a team that includes former NBA All-Stars Kenny Anderson, Cliff Robinson, and Vin Baker. Craig Hodges and Doug Christie are on the team, as well. They will play against a top North Korean Senior National team on Jan. 8, marking Kim Jong Un’s birthday.Smith, who played for Pitt and the New York Knicks, said he was looking forward to the game with Rodman.“Dennis and I are total opposites but we work very well together,” Smith said. “Dennis is one of the few people I know that doesn’t just talk but actually lives a culturally diverse life. We have traveled everywhere together so I was not surprised with his first visit to North Korea.“Cultural exchange is about sharing. Sharing ideas and thoughts on education, culture and life.”Rodman is the highest profile American to meet Kim since the leader inherited power from his father in late 2011.Rodman calls the game his version of “basketball diplomacy.”“My previous travels have allowed me to feel the enthusiasm and warmth of fans,” Rodman said. “The positive memories and smiles on the faces of the children and families are a testament to the great efforts we have put into fulfilling our mission wherever we go voiding any politics. We are all looking forward to arriving in Pyongyang, meeting the citizens, visiting various charities and using the opportunity to develop new relationships that result in our annual return.”FILE – In this Oct. 25, 2013, photo, former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman poses for photographers during a news conference to promote a TV program in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayash, Filei)Rodman made his latest visit to North Korea shortly before Christmas to train the North Korean basketball team, though he did not meet with Kim. Rodman, known as much for his piercings, tattoos and bad behavior as he was for basketball, traveled to the secretive state for the first time last February with the Harlem Globetrotters for an HBO series produced by New York-based VICE television. Rodman has called Kim a “friend for life.”He said his trips would not be affected by the recent execution of Kim’s uncle.Rodman has been criticized for not talking about North Korea’s human rights record, described as one of the world’s worst by activists, the U.S. State Department and North Korean defectors. The defectors have repeatedly testified about the government’s alleged use of indiscriminate killings, rapes, beatings and prison camps holding as many as 120,000 people deemed opponents of authoritarian leader Kim Jong Un, the third generation of his family to rule.last_img read more

Wilson looking to be the Super Bowl QB star

first_imgSeattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson answers questions during a media availability Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, in Jersey City, N.J.  (AP Photo)JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — The captain was a few minutes late, though no one seemed to mind.Russell Wilson is usually worth the wait, and no more than on this day, his final one speaking about the game before he actually plays The Game.Peyton Manning is supposed to be the star of this Super Bowl, but a minor league second baseman who refused to listen to those who said he was too small to play quarterback in the NFL may have something to say about that. Proving people wrong is almost as fun for Wilson as winning football games, and he’s done both with great regularity since being drafted with the 75th overall pick two years ago by the Seattle Seahawks.“For all the kids that have been told, no, that they can’t do it, or all the kids that will be told no,” Wilson said. “That’s one of the reasons that I left playing baseball, to be honest with you. I had this urge to play the game of football, because so many people — I shouldn’t say so many, a handful of people — said I couldn’t do it.Richard Sherman will be the player most remembered from the win that got Seattle here. But if not for a gutsy play on an equally gutsy call, the Seahawks would not be in position to win their first Super Bowl title. Wilson found Jermaine Kearse in the end zone for the touchdown on a fourth down against San Francisco in the NFC championship game, giving the Seahawks the lead for the first time.It was the kind of play a veteran star like Manning might make when it counts most. The kind of play Wilson prepared for meticulously every day for the past two years.The kind of play that can win a Super Bowl.“I don’t think I’ve seen too many people have the knack to want be great. He wants to be a great quarterback,” receiver Percy Harvin said. “He just doesn’t want to be average or All-Pro. He wants to be talked about as a great quarterback and I don’t think he’s going to stop until he does.”By now, Wilson’s story is fairly well known. The son of the late Harrison Wilson III — a star athlete at Dartmouth who became a lawyer after briefly thinking of trying out for the NFL in 1977 — he lost a job as starting quarterback at North Carolina State while playing second base in the Colorado Rockies organization.Wilson would give up baseball to star as a graduate student at Wisconsin, leading the Badgers to the Big 10 title and a spot in the Rose Bowl. But he was undersized at 5-foot-11 and languished in the NFL draft before Pete Carroll and the Seahawks took a chance on him for what was expected to be a backup quarterback position.Instead, Carroll called him to the basketball court at the team’s complex prior to his rookie season, where Wilson watched him shoot jumpers.“I go outside and he said, ‘You want to shoot?’ ” Wilson said. “Then he said, ‘We want you to know you’re going to be the starting quarterback for the Seattle Seahawks, hopefully for a long time.’“That put a huge smile on my face. I immediately thought of my mom and dad and all the things they’ve done for me and all the discipline they gave me.”That discipline is evident in the way Wilson approaches his job as both the quarterback and leader of his team. Like all quarterbacks he watches film, but Wilson is constantly studying situations and is relentless about fixing mistakes.“He makes everyone around him almost a perfectionist because we pick up off that and the habits that he has,” said receiver Ricardo Lockette. “He is always the first one there in the morning and the last one to leave.”Those habits helped propel the Seahawks to an 11-5 record last season behind their rookie QB. They beat the Washington Redskins in the first round of the playoffs, then lost a shootout to Atlanta that had Wilson down in the dumps — if only for a moment.By the time he was in the tunnel going back to the locker room he had already begun thinking what he had to do in the offseason to get the Seahawks over the hump this year.“I want to change the game and there’s a difference between being good and being great and changing the game,” Wilson said. “Guys like Peyton Manning change the game in terms of the way he thinks and in terms of the way he processes things. Tom Brady is the same way, he’s so clutch that people fear him. One day I want to evolve to that.”Wilson can take a big step in that direction should he join an elite group of quarterbacks (Brady, Kurt Warner and Ben Roethlisberger) who have won a Super Bowl in just their second year. He’s certainly not overwhelmed by the moment, and seems to embrace the challenge, even when it comes to answering the same questions over and over during the pregame buildup.A great believer in visualization, he already sees himself on the field at the Meadowlands, is already trying to figure out how to feel when the national anthem is sung and the stadium erupts in flashes for the kickoff.“Then it will be, OK, I’m ready to go,” Wilson said.If he is, there may be more than one quarterback star in this Super Bowl.___AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.orglast_img read more