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PILING INTO THE STOCK MARKET

SOME OF the numbers behind the market:

If you had bought each of the 30 Dow industrial stocks six years ago as the bull market was getting started, you would have doubled your money by now. Including reinvested dividends, $100 invested in the Dow Industrial stocks in September of 1990 would have grown to $198.81 by this September, according to S&P Compustat. That far outpaces the market's average annual return of about 10 percent.

More than one adult in three owns stock directly, through a mutual fund or through a savings plan like their employer's 401(k), according to the New York Stock Exchange. Stock market analysts say much of the new investment has come from baby boomers, now turning 50, who are growing anxious about having enough money for retirement.

Through September, Americans put more than $177 million into stock mutual funds, more than twice the rate of a year earlier, according to the Investment Company Institute.

The Federal Reserve reports that last year the value of household stockholdings outweighed home equity for the first time in decades, reaching $5.5 trillion in stocks compared with $4.2 trillion in homes.

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