The funding levels of pension plans sponsored by S&P 1500 companies jumped to 91 percent in September, its highest point since October 2008, Mercer said Thursday. 

The deficit stood at $182 billion at the end of September, a far cry from the estimated $557 billion deficit at the end of 2012.

Despite volatility amid concerns about a government shutdown, equity markets saw gains during the month, with the S&P 500 index increasing 3 percent.

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