The stock market helped, and so did employer contributions thatwere greater than expected—giving the largest U.S. pension plans a “modest” improvement in fundedstatus at year-end 2017 over where they were at the end of2016.

That’s according to a Willis TowersWatson analysis, which finds that, among the 389 Fortune 1000companies that sponsor U.S. defined benefit pension plans and have aDecember fiscal-year-end date, the aggregate pension funded statusis estimated to be 83 percent at the end of 2017, compared with 81percent at the end of 2016.

The analysis also finds that the pension deficit is projected tohave decreased to $292 billion at the end of 2017, compared with a$317 billion deficit at the end of 2016.

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