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Aided by an uptick in interest rates, the funding levels of large corporate pension plans improved in November for the second month in a row but still remain significantly below levels of just a few months ago, according to a Mercer L.L.C. analysis.
The average funding level of pension plans sponsored by companies in the Standard & Poor's 1500 improved to 78% as of Nov. 30, up from 75% as of Oct. 31 and 72% as of Sept. 30, Mercer said Monday.
Still, the average funding level of large plans is well below this year's peak funded status, which was 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 $391 billion at the end of November, down from $471 billion at the end of October and the record $512 billion in underfunding at the end of September.
In all, the plans had aggregate assets of $1.42 trillion and aggregate liabilities of $1.81 trillion at the end of November, Mercer said.