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Political shockwaves hit pension plan funding

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Hit by a fall in the equities market after the United Kingdom voted to exit the European Union, along with lower interest rates boosting the value of plan liabilities, the funded status of pension plans sponsored by large employers fell in June, Mercer L.L.C. said Wednesday.

On average, pension plans sponsored by companies in the S&P 1500 were 76% funded at the end of June, down from 79% at the end of May.

“The events in June provide a reminder of how quickly pension funded status can move when there are shocks in the event,” Matt McDaniel, a Mercer partner in Philadelphia, said in a statement.

“In the two trading days following the Brexit vote, we saw funded status fall a full 4 percentage points before a partial recovery before month-end,” Mr. McDaniel added.

In all, the plans had $1.83 trillion in assets and $2.40 trillion in liabilities at the end of June. The plans' aggregate funding deficit rose by about $70 billion in June to $568 billion, Mercer said.