Defying forecasts of another grim month due to global market volatility, the funded status of the 100 largest US corporate pension funds surprisingly increased $93 billion in March despite deteriorating economic conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Just a month after hitting its lowest level in more than three years the Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index (PFI), which tracks the funded ratio for the 100 largest corporate pension plans in the US, rose to 85.6% from 82.1% at the end of February. Consulting firm Milliman said the funding improvement was the direct result of a strong surge in the monthly discount rate to 3.39% from 2.69%.
“It’s a stunning twist of fate that a month so turbulent as March—given the market conditions and the ongoing global pandemic—actually resulted in positive funding news for corporate pensions,” Zorast Wadia, author of the Milliman 100 PFI, said in a statement. A month ago, Wadia predicted that “March will likely be another dismal month for corporate pension funding.”