The aggregate funded status of S&P 1500 companies' pension plans increased to 78% in October, up two percentage points from a month earlier, reducing the deficit by $56 billion to $373 billion, according to a Mercer report.
Equity returns, using the S&P 500 Total Return index, were 4% for the month, down from 9% a month earlier.
The estimated aggregate value of pension plan assets of S&P 1500 companies in October was $1.34 trillion, with aggregate liabilities of $1.71 trillion, according to a Mercer news release about the report.
Chris Ebersole, principal in Mercer's financial strategy group, said in an interview that while results are improved from earlier this year, “There is a lot of uncertainty looking ahead to the end of the year.”
“We were at 84% at the beginning of the year, so we're still down 6 percentage points,” he said. “You'd have to see significant movement in liabilities and equities to get back to that point.”