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Aided by a strong equities market, the funding levels of large corporate pension plans improved in January but still are significantly below levels of just a few months ago, according to an analysis by Mercer L.L.C.
The average funding level of pension plans sponsored by companies in the S&P 1500 improved to 78% as of Jan. 31, up from 75% as of Dec. 31, 2011, Mercer said Thursday.
Still, at 78%, the average funding level of large plans is well below the 2011 peak funded status, set in April when plans had an average funded ratio of 88%. At the end of 2010, plans sponsored by S&P 1500 companies were an average of 81% funded, Mercer reported.
On an aggregate basis, plans sponsored by S&P 1500 companies were underfunded by $431 billion, down from $484 billion at the end of December.
In all, plans as of Jan. 31 had aggregate assets of $1.50 trillion, and aggregate liabilities of $1.93 trillion, Mercer said.