The sharp fall on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) cost members of provident funds NIS 4.5 billion of their savings in June and NIS 7b. in the first half of 2011.The falls in stock and bond prices resulted in a negative return of 1.5 percent for provident funds in June, making it the worst month for the sector since the financial crisis began in 2008. The negative return was 2.5% in the first half of the year.When management fees are added (an average of 0.5% of the assets in the first half), plus inflation, provident funds lost 5% in real terms in the first half.The provident funds’ losses have pressed investors. The amount of withdrawals jumped in May to NIS 767 million, 25% above the monthly average over the preceding 12 months.Figures for June have not yet been published, but withdrawals from provident funds will reportedly be about the same as in May. Provident-fund investors usually react slowly to market volatility because they receive reports on returns on their investments after a two-month lag. Therefore it cannot be ruled out that the heavy withdrawals will continue in the coming months, unless the negative sentiment on the TASE changes.In June, managers of provident funds with foreignand government-bond exposure were able to partly offset the falling prices in other instruments. Altshuler Shaham Ltd. again led the rankings in June, although Yelin Lapidot Investment House Ltd. reclaimed the top position for advanced-training funds from Altshuler Shaham, which held the position in May.