SEATTLE, Nov. 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Milliman, Inc., a premier global consulting and actuarial firm, today released the results of its latest Pension Funding Index (PFI), which analyzes the 100 largest U.S. corporate pension plans. In October, the funded status for these pension plans experienced its largest increase of the year, improving by $28 billion, primarily due to interest rate gains that resulted in a $45 billion decrease in pension liabilities. The funded ratio for these plans climbed a whole percentage point, from 76.3% to 77.3%. "This is the second straight month of funded status gains," said Zorast Wadia, co-author of the Milliman 100 PFI, "but we're far from celebrating. These plans are still down $103 billion for the year, thanks to decreases in interest rates and lower-than-expected investment returns. Throw in a divisive election on November 8th, and we'll see what the rest of 2016 has in store for these plans." Looking forward, under an optimistic forecast with rising interest rates (reaching 3.71% by the end of 2016 and 4.31% by the end of 2017) and asset gains (11.2% annual returns), the funded ratio would climb to 79% by the end of 2016 and 90% by the end of 2017. Under a pessimistic forecast (3.51% discount rate at the end of 2016 and 2.91% by the end of 2017 and 3.2% annual returns), the funded ratio would decline to 76% by the end of 2016 and 69% by the end of 2017.