Stocks lift 401(k)s, but many Americans unprepared for retirement

The average 401(k) balance reached a new record of $89,300 in the fourth quarter, up 15.5 percent from a year earlier. The average 401(k) balance reached a new record of $89,300 in the fourth quarter, up 15.5 percent from a year earlier.

Last year’s stock-market surge boosted 401(k) accounts, but millions of Americans are still likely to run short of money in retirement, according to a pair of studies released Thursday.

The average 401(k) balance reached a new record of $89,300 in the fourth quarter, up 15.5% from a year earlier, according to mutual-fund giant Fidelity Investments. More than three-quarters of the gain came from rising stock prices.

The rising market helped the average 401(k) balance nearly double from a bear-market trough of $46,200 in March 2009, according to Fidelity.

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