Irish pension schemes saw their funding positions improve over the course of last month as equities produced strong gains, according to consultancy data. LCP said the funding level of a typical defined benefit (DB) scheme in Ireland had increased by about 1.4% in May, as assets grew faster than liabilities. While liabilities increased by 1.2% in the month for sample DB schemes in LCP’s study, assets grew over the same period by 2.6%, the firm said. Meanwhile, Aon Hewitt said its Managed Fund Index – which includes traditional Irish pension managed funds – increased by 2.72% in May, while the index has returned 6.05% since the start of the year. Cathal Fehily, investment consultant at Aon Hewitt, said: “Irish defined benefit pension schemes will have seen their liabilities rise again in May given the fall in core euro-zone government bond yields.”But strong asset performance in the month should compensate for this increase in liabilities, Fehily said, with schemes generally seeing a small improvement in their funding levels.LCP said the best pension fund performers in the month were defined contribution (DC) schemes with a high allocation to growth assets.Pension fund investments in global equities increased by almost 4% last month, it reported.Long-dated euro-zone bonds with AAA ratings also rose in price in May, it said, with bond yields falling for the fifth month in a row.Aon Hewitt said global equity markets rose in May, with the FTSE All World Index up 3.9% in euro terms. Japan was the best performing region in euro terms, while the FTSE Japan Index returned 5.8%.Fehily said equity markets strengthened on the expectation the European Central Bank would loosen monetary policy further following its meeting on the 5 June, as it tried to spur higher inflation in the region. “Euro-zone government bonds also benefited from this expected policy, as government bond yields moved even lower over the month,” he added.