Average balances of 401(k) retirement plans reached the highestlevel since Fidelity Investments began tracking account values in1998.

The average account balance in the U.S. rose to $74,900 as ofMarch 31, an increase of almost 12 percent from last year,according to a report released today by the Boston-based mutual-fund manager. Fidelity, the largest provider of 401(k)s, has 11million participants in almost 16,500 employer-sponsored definedcontribution plans.

“This for us is an all-time high since Fidelity began trackingthis figure back in 1998,” said Beth McHugh, vice president ofmarket insights for Fidelity. “The other positive indicator that wesaw was more participants increasing deferrals versus decreasingthem.”

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