UK - The volatility of pension fund accounting showed itself strongly again last month. But the news is positive for the first time since June 2008 as the aggregated funding level of UK defined benefit funds hit a £300m (€340.4m) surplus in March.

Latest figures presented by the Pension Protection Fund's 7800 index of DB schemes suggests pension funding levels pulled back from a £15bn deficit in February to see almost a third of all schemes achieve a surplus over their liabilities.

The total surplus of schemes in surplus increased from £64.4bn in February 2010 to £73.6bn in March, while the number of schemes in surplus rose to 2,310 or 31.5% of the 7,342 schemes counted.

This gain seems to have been possible even though liabilities actually rose 2.1% over the month to £915bn by the end of March. Over the course of the last 12 months, however, liabilities have dropped by 7.6%, as 15-year gilt yields rose by 66bps against a 46.7% rose in the FTSE All-Share index.

The 3.5% improved value of assets in a month was driven by a rally in UK and global equities, said the PFF, and somewhat countered a change in gilt yields which increased liabilities by 1.8%.

At the other end of the scale, the total deficit of schemes in deficit pulled back from £79.5bn in February 2010 to £73.3bn for the 5,032 schemes in deficit. This compares with a deficit of £253.1bn a year ago.

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