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Stock losses, low interest rates drag down large pension funding

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Fueled by lower interest rates, which boosted the value of liabilities, and losses in the equity markets, the funded status of pension plans sponsored by large employers fell in September, according to a Mercer L.L.C. analysis released Friday.

On average, pension plans sponsored by companies in the S&P 1500 were 79% funded as of Sept. 30, down from 81% funded as of Aug. 31, and 83% as of July 31.

“As the third quarter ends with a volatile September, funding levels have returned to Dec. 31, 2014 levels, erasing gains from the first half of this year,” Jim Ritchie, a Mercer principal in Baltimore said in a statement.

In the aggregate, the Mercer analysis found that the plans’ funding deficit rose by $43 billion in September to $457 billion.

In all, the plans, at the end of September had $1.75 trillion in assets and $2.21 trillion in liabilities.