S&P 1500 Pension Funded Status Increased by 1 Percent in April


New York, N.Y., May 5, 2021
– The estimated aggregate funding level of pension plans sponsored by S&P 1500 companies increased by 1 percent in April 2021 to 96 percent as a result of an increase in equity markets, slightly offset by the decrease in discount rates. As of April 30, 2021, the estimated aggregate deficit of $102 billion USD decreased by $16 billion USD as compared to $118 billion USD measured at the end of March according to Mercer,[1] a global consulting leader and a business of Marsh McLennan (NYSE: MMC).

 

The S&P 500 index increased 5.24 percent and the MSCI EAFE index increased 2.73 percent in April. Typical discount rates for pension plans as measured by the Mercer Yield Curve decreased from 3.01 percent to 2.89 percent.

 

“During April pension funded status rose to its highest level since the Great Recession thanks to strong equity markets,” said Matt McDaniel, a Partner in Mercer’s Wealth Business. “Equity markets, again, reached fresh all-time highs during the month but interest rates declined for the first month this year muting some of the gains. Equity markets have been relentless over the past year pushing pension funded status to levels not seen in over a decade but there’s always the looming risk of a pullback. In light of recent gains in funded status and the current market environment, plan sponsors should review their investment policies to ensure they have the appropriate balance of investment risk.”

 

Notes for editors

Information on the Mercer Yield Curve is available at http://www.mercer.com/pensiondiscount.

The Mercer US Pension Buyout Index may be accessed at http://www.mercer.us/our-thinking/mercer-us-pension-buyout-index.html.

Unless otherwise stated, the calculations are based on the Financial Accounting Standard (FAS) funding position and include analysis of the S&P 1500 companies.

 

Figure 1 : Estimated aggregate surplus/ (deficit) position and the funded status of all plans sponsored by companies in the S&P 1500

Source: Mercer, April 2021

 

Figure 2: High Quality Corporate Bond Yield and S&P 500 data points

Date

High Quality Corporate Bond Yield

S&P 500 Index

December 31, 2007

6.40%

1,468.36

December 31, 2008

6.34%

903.25

December 31, 2009

5.98%

1,115.10

December 31, 2010

5.33%

1,257.64

December 31, 2011

4.55%

1,257.60

December 31, 2012

3.71%

1,426.19

December 31, 2013

4.69%

1,848.36

December 31, 2014

3.81%

2,058.90

December 31, 2015

4.24%

2,043.94

December 31, 2016

4.04%

2,238.83

December 31, 2017

3.56%

2,673.61

December 31, 2018

4.19%

2,506.85

December 31, 2019

3.18%

3,230.78

July 31, 2020

2.20%

3,271.12

August 31, 2020

2.46%

3,500.31

September 30, 2020

2.53%

3,363.00

October 31, 2020

2.64%

3,269.96

November 30, 2020

2.37%

3,621.63

December 31, 2020

2.32%

3,756.07

January 31, 2021

2.50%

3,714.24

February 28, 2021

2.76%

3,811.15

March 31, 2021

3.01%

3,972.89

April 30, 2021

2.89%

4,181.17

 

[1] Figures provided by Mercer Investments LLC.

[2] Source of financial statement data: Standard & Poor’s Capital IQ. Standard and Poor’s is a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. This may contain information obtained from third parties, including ratings from credit ratings agencies such as Standard & Poor’s.  Reproduction and distribution of third party content in any form is prohibited except with the prior written permission of the related third party.  Third party content providers do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness or availability of any information, including ratings, and are not responsible for any errors or omissions (negligent or otherwise), regardless of the cause, or for the results obtained from the use of such content.  THIRD PARTY CONTENT PROVIDERS GIVE NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE. THIRD PARTY CONTENT PROVIDERS shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, exemplary, compensatory, punitive, special or consequential damages, costs, expenses, legal fees, or losses (including lost income or profits and opportunity costs) in connection with any use of THEIR CONTENT, INCLUDING ratings. Credit ratings are statements of opinions and are not statements of fact or recommendations to purchase, hold, or sell securities. They do not address the suitability of securities or the suitability of securities for investment purposes, and should not be relied on as investment advice.

 

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