The total deficit of the pension funds covered by the Pension Protection Fund's 7800 index fell 50.9% in January and 74% in the year ended Jan. 31, to £51 billion ($71.9 billion).
The London-based lifeboat for pension funds of insolvent U.K. companies said in an update that the funded status improved to 96.9% as of Jan. 31, compared with 93.9% as of Dec. 31, and 88.2% at Jan. 31, 2017.
Assets fell 0.9% in January to £1.576 trillion, but grew 7.4% in the 12 months. The FTSE All-Share index was up 7.2% for the year.
Liabilities fell to £1.627 trillion, down 3.9% in the month and down 2.2% in the year. The PPF said in its update that conventional 15-year gilt yields rose 21 basis points in January, and index-linked five- to 15-year gilt yields rose 26 basis points. For the year, 15-year gilt yields were down four basis points, and index-linked five- to 15-year gilt yields were up 33 basis points.
The proportion of pension funds covered by the index that were in deficit as of Jan. 31 fell to 62.5%, from 66.4% as of Dec. 30. The index covered 5,588 pension funds as of those dates. As of Jan. 31, 2017, when the index covered 5,794 pension funds, 73.6% were in deficit.