PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — South Dakota Retirement System investments rose more than 8% since July 1, despite a third being in cash, state investment officer Matt Clark told the system’s trustees Thursday.

“We would be higher if we weren’t so conservatively positioned,” he said. “But that’s our strategy.”

The performance through November 30 follows a 1.59% gain for the previous fiscal year ending June 30, when total value edged up to $12.46 billion. The system operates on an assumed 6.5% rate of return.

The reason for the large amount of cash, Clark said, is the state Investment Council is waiting for good opportunities. He believes the stock market overall is over-priced.

“And we won’t get hurt so bad when the markets go down, if they go down,” he said.

SDRS has more than 90,000 active and retired members who are or have been employees of state government and counties, municipalities, school districts and other local government units.

Trustees chairman James Johns, a Rapid City police captain, praised Clark and the investment staff. “You guys are doing excellent work. You have a fabulous team out there,” he said.