The funded ratio of the 100 largest U.S. public defined benefit pension plans rose to 78.6 per cent as of Feb. 29, up from 77.7 per cent at the end of January, according to Milliman Inc.’s latest public pension funding index.

Individually, public pension plans returned between an estimated 0.0 per cent to 3.2 per cent for the month, gaining roughly $79 billion in total market value, which was offset by a net negative cash flow of approximately $9 billion. Meanwhile, the gap between assets and liabilities shrank by $56 billion to $1.3 trillion at the end of February.

Read: Funded ratio of largest U.S. DB pension plans dipped to 103% in November: report

“Although most plans saw an improvement in their funded status, this month’s above-average market performance did not move any plans across either the 60 per cent or 90 per cent funded ratio mark,” said Becky Sielman, who co-authored the report. “As a result, by the end of February we’re holding on to the gains we saw in Q4 of last year, with 21 plans above 90 per cent funded, and 15 plans below 60 per cent funded.”