The drop was due to a 4.5% rise in liabilities, resulting from falling interest rates, and a decline in the equity markets, according to the BNY Mellon Pension Summary Report for April 2012. BNY Mellon attributed the increase in liabilities to the 29-basis-point drop in the Aa corporate discount rate to 4.29%.
The decline in the equity markets was the primary reason for the 0.1% drop in plan assets during the month, BNY Mellon said. The funded status of the typical corporate plans remains positive for the year so far, having gained 3.9 percentage points, primarily as a result of the strong equities performance in the first quarter of 2012.
“Concerns about a slowing economy in the U.S. and the ability of Europe to rebound resulted in increased pessimism in April,” said Jeffrey B. Saef, managing director, BNY Mellon Asset Management, and head of the BNY Mellon Investment Strategy & Solutions Group (a division of The Bank of New York Mellon). “If plan sponsors become pessimistic about the outlook for equities, we could see further acceleration in the trend toward hedging against interest rate moves.”