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DEFINED BENEFIT

U.K. corporate pension deficit rises nearly 6% in April

The total deficit of all U.K. corporate defined benefit funds increased 5.8% in April to £182 billion ($235.6 billion), but fell 0.5% for the year ended April 30, said JLT Employee Benefits.

The consultant's latest monthly index showed the funded level of these plans was flat for the month at 90%, but improved from 88% a year earlier.

Total assets were £1.57 trillion as of April 30, down 0.3% for the month but up 17.7% for the year. Liabilities grew 0.3% for the month and 15.5% for the year to £1.75 trillion.

The largest 100 companies in the U.K. saw pension fund deficits rise 7.1% for the month and 13.2% for the year, to £60 billion. The funded level was flat for the month at 92% and improved from 91% a year earlier.

FTSE 350 company deficits grew 6% for the month and 12.7% for the year, to total £71 billion. The funded level fell to 91% in April, from 92% as of March 31, but was flat for the year.

“Markets have been surprisingly stable at a time of political uncertainty in the U.K. and across Europe,” said Charles Cowling, director at JLT Employee Benefits, in a statement accompanying the index update. “As a result, whilst pension deficits remain high due to quantitative easing and record low interest rates, they have remained pretty much at their current levels for some time now. This is despite the threat of inflation caused by the devaluation of sterling and rising import prices, which is likely to flow through to higher pensions.”