It was a volatile fourth quarter for U.S. stocks amid investor concerns over global growth and uncertainty about the timing of when the U.S. Federal reserve would raise interest rates. Consumer-related sectors performed well, while the industrials and business services sector and commodity-related industries struggled. Within the Russell 1000 Growth Index, nine of 10 sectors posted positive returns. Health care was the best performer. Energy declined during the period. Large-cap growth stocks outperformed large-cap value stocks and large-cap stocks distanced small- and mid-caps.
The Growth Stock Fund returned 8.60% in the quarter compared with 7.32% for the Russell 1000 Growth Index and 8.23% for the Lipper Large-Cap Growth Funds Index. For the 12 months ended December 31, 2015, the fund returned 10.85% versus 5.67% for the Russell 1000 Growth Index and 5.61% for the Lipper Large-Cap Growth Funds Index. The fund's average annual total returns were 10.85%, 14.61%, and 9.18% for the 1-, 5-, and 10-year periods, respectively, as of December 31, 2015. The fund's expense ratio was 0.68% as of its fiscal year ended December 31, 2014.
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The Growth Stock Fund outperformed both the Russell 1000 Growth and S&P 500 Indexes during the fourth quarter. Performance was driven by stock selection in the information technology, consumer discretionary, and consumer staples sectors. Stock selection in health care and our underweight in the materials sector were detractors in the quarter. We focus on selecting high-quality, stable growth companies that can perform well even if the global economy experiences only modest growth. We primarily invest in large-cap companies in what we view as the fastest-growing sectors of the market.
Although the U.S. economy should continue to grow at a steady pace, economic expansion has been muted. Growth is likely to be rare in the current investing environment, and we expect it to persist in 2016. Effectively selecting durable growers will be critical to driving performance. We remain constructive on the longer-term prospects for large-cap growth stocks. Market volatility provides us with opportunities to purchase equities that we believe are mispriced intrinsically relative to their long-term prospects. We will remain vigilant in taking advantage of these opportunities.