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Stocks lift wealth; companies amass cash

Americans’ wealth grew 3.8 percent in the final three months of 2010, boosted by gains in stock portfolios. Companies, meanwhile, added to their cash stockpiles, which reached their highest point in more than a half-century.

The Federal Reserve says household net worth rose to $56.8 trillion in the October to December quarter, even though the value of real estate holdings fell. The gain last quarter exceeded the 2.6 percent increase in net worth in the July to September period.

So far this year, stocks have risen more than 3 percent.

Net worth is the value of assets such as homes, checking accounts and investments, minus debts such as mortgages and credit cards.

Americans’ net worth still would have to rise an additional 16 percent to reach its pre-recession peak of $66 trillion.

From wire dispatches and staff reports