The 20 companies that sponsor the largest corporate defined benefit plans listed in the U.S. felt the wind at their backs for three quarters of 2018. A blend of higher discount rates and strong equity performance led to funded ratio improvements rivaling the 5% increase in 2017. But it was not to be. In Q4 global equities lost 13% in value, a headwind that negated much of the growth in funded ratios, which on average rose slightly from 84.4% to 85.3% during the 2018. The funding deficit in dollar terms fared better as both assets and liabilities fell during the year, and the $157 billion starting deficit dropped to $137 billion, the lowest level since 2013.

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