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Pension plan funding stable in March

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Pension plans sponsored by S&P 1500 companies maintained an estimated aggregate funding level of 80% through the end of March, according to a report by Mercer L.L.C. released Monday.

Companies in the S&P 1500 reduced their pension plan funding deficit by $6 billion to an estimated $480 billion as of March 31, thanks in large part to slight increases in the interest rates that reduced the value of plan liabilities.

“Even though March was a relatively stable month, plan sponsors have seen significant swings in funded status in 2015 and are still feeling the sting of the updated mortality tables,” Jim Ritchie, a principal in Mercer's retirement practice, said in a statement from the New York-based benefits consulting arm of Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. “Plan sponsors that executed on risk transfer activities in 2014 are faring much better with the mortality impact than those that did not.”

Pension plans sponsored by S&P 1500 companies have improved their funded status by $24 billion since the end of 2014.

The estimated aggregate value of assets held in the S&P 1500 pension plans as of March 31 was $1.90 trillion, compared with $2.38 trillion in estimated aggregate liabilities.