Figures released by actuaries Aon Consulting suggest that the pensions deficit facing the UK's biggest listed companies has contracted in the last month thanks to a surging equities market.

The latest news that the FTSE100 index has surpassed the 6,000 mark has enabled many companies to close some of the gaps that exist in their pensions funds.

Aon estimates that the total deficit facing 200 schemes it surveyed decreased from E76 billion to E73 billion between the end of January and the end of February 2006.

Some of the improvement seen in pensions deficits ca be attributed to a rise in the value of equities, although Aon points out that, taking the rise of the FTSE index overall since its nadir of just 3,287 three years ago, some of the pensions gains through equities have been canceled out by a decline in bond yields.