Us - The funding level of S&P1500 companies stabilised in January, latest estimates from Mercer reveal.
Despite this, it said the value of both pension assets and liabilities declined during the month - which reduced the dollar amount of the estimated aggregate deficit to US$380bn from $409bn at the end of December.
Mercer financial strategy group member Adrian Hartshorn said: "Discount rates increased during January, which reduced the value of pension plan liabilities. Asset values also declined.
"The lower value of assets combined with the lower value of liabilities means that the monetary amount of the deficit is slightly smaller compared to the end of December 2008. However, the ratio of assets to liabilities remains unchanged."
He added: "The majority of US companies have their financial year-ends at December 31, so month-by-month changes have little direct impact. However, with the general market volatility it is important that corporate sponsors of defined benefit pension plans monitor the funded status regularly and understand the business impact of change."
At December 31, 2007, the pension plans sponsored by companies in the S&P 1500 had an aggregate surplus of $60bn and a funded status of 104%.
Enhanced powers for The Pensions Regulator (TPR) to prosecute and fine company directors who "wilfully or recklessly" put their defined benefit (DB) pension scheme at risk will be hard to enforce, commentators say.
Melrose has pledged to contribute up to £1bn to GKN's pension schemes as part of a final offer to acquire the engineering business.
Existing master trusts will be forced to pay £41,000 when applying for authorisation under the upcoming regime, the government has confirmed.
UPDATE 2 - DWP publishes DB white paper: Stronger powers for TPR, DB chair statements to be introduced
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) will be given the power to fine company bosses who deliberately puts their defined benefit (DB) schemes at risk, the government has confirmed.