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Falling interest rates nip largest pension plans' funding levels


The funded status of very large pension plans sponsored by public companies slipped in July as falling interest rates boosted the value of plan liabilities, according to a Milliman Inc. survey released Thursday.

Defined benefit plans offered by U.S. employers with the 100 largest pension programs were an average of 84.8% funded as of July 31, down from 85.5% funded as of June 30.

At the end of July, the plans had $1.457 trillion in assets and $1.718 trillion in liabilities, resulting in a funding deficit of $261.30 billion. That is an increase of about $16 billion compared with the end of June when the funding shortfall was $245.58 billion.

“We finally saw an interruption to the streak of improving pension funded status in July. Interest rates drove up pension liabilities last month,” John Ehrhardt, a Milliman principal and consulting actuary in New York, said in a statement.

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