Average balances of 401(k) retirement plans were about 62percent higher as of March 31 than the first quarter of 2009, whenthe stock market reached a 12-year low, according to FidelityInvestments.

The average account balance in the U.S. was $74,600 comparedwith $46,200 at the end of the first quarter of 2009, according toa report released today by the Boston-based mutual-fund manager.The Standard & Poor's 500 Index fell about 40 percent in the 12months ended March 31, 2009.

The stock market recovery and renewed commitment to saving hasdriven the increase, Beth McHugh, vice president of market insightsfor Fidelity, said in an interview yesterday.

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