Corporate pension funds are close to being fully funded after 2013's strong move in the stock market and a big increase in yields on high-grade corporate debt.
"We've had everything working in our favor," said Alan Glickstein, a senior retirement consultant at Towers Watson. "Assets went up, liabilities went down and funded status improved sharply."
The increase in pensions' funding status should allow firms to cut pension expenses in 2014, adding billions to corporate profits.
A report from Mercer Investment Consulting said the funding ratio for pensions of S&P 1500 companies rose to 95 percent by Dec. 31, 2013 from 74 percent at the end of 2012.