Investment losses and a drop in corporate bond interest rates inSeptember took their toll on the funding status of the country’slargest defined benefit pension funds.

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That resulted in a $28 billion hit in September to thecollective funding status of the 100 largestpensions, according to the Milliman 100 Pension Funding Index.

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Collectively, the pensions’ funding deficit is now $312billion.

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At the end of September, which marked the end of 2015’s thirdquarter, the aggregate funding status was 81.7 percent, down from83.3 percent at the end of August, and down from 85.5 percent atthe end of the second quarter in June.

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In September, the value of all the invested assets in the fundsdecreased $19 billion. Compounding poor market returns was a $9billion increase in expected liabilities, due to a drop in thebenchmark corporate bond interest rate, which is used to valuepension liabilities.

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That rate dropped 4 basis points in September, to 4.19 percent,a decrease from 4.23 percent in August.

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Investment losses for the third quarter, driven by volatileequity markets in August and September, totaled $51 billion. Thatrepresents the largest third-quarter loss since 2011.

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In its 2015 Pension Study, Milliman set the expected annualreturn in pension investments for the year to be 7.3 percent.

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In order to hit that expectation and reverse the trend indecreasing funded status, sponsors are going to have to have equitymarkets gain some considerable steam for the rest of the year.

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“It will take a massive rally in the fourth quarter for these100 pensions to sniff their annual expected return of 7.3 percent,”said John Ehrhardt, co-author of the Milliman 100 Pension FundingIndex, in a statement.

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Just how well will those pension assets have to perform for therest of the year to recoup losses this year?

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Milliman says a fourth quarter investment gain of 8.4 percentwill be necessary just to meet the annual 7.3 percent expectedinvestment gain for the year.

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For context, the largest monthly increase in assets over thepast year was 1.62 percent in November 2014, according toMilliman.

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