The pension plans of S&P 1500 companies had an aggregate funding ratio of 75% in October, up from 72% in September, according to Mercer.
The overall funding deficit fell to $471 billion as of Oct. 31 from $512 billion the previous month — which was the highest pension shortfall since Mercer began tracking the data in December 2007.
Also, last month saw the largest one-month improvement since September 2010.
An 11% gain in equities drove the increase, said Kevin Armant, principal at Mercer, in a telephone interview. “It's definitely moving in the right direction, but as we saw in the first couple days in November and the last couple of days in October, things can move around pretty easily,” Mr. Armant said.
The increase was partially offset by the decrease in yields on high-quality corporate bonds.
The estimated assets of pension funds in the S&P 1500 were $1.39 trillion as of Oct. 31, with estimated aggregate liabilities of $1.87 trillion.