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Published: Thursday, 12/9/2010

Americans' net worth grew 2.2 percent last quarter

WASHINGTON — After losing ground in the spring, Americans' wealth grew 2.2 percent in the July-September as stock portfolios surged.

The Federal Reserve says household net worth rose to $54.9 trillion last quarter, even though the value of real estate holdings fell 3.7 percent

The bounce-back came after net worth had dropped 2.6 percent in the spring, the first decline since early 2009, as Wall Street's fears over Europe's debt crisis shriveled stock portfolios. The financial turmoil had caused wealth to shrink after four straight quarterly gains. Since then, stocks have risen.

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

Americans' net worth still would have to rise an additional 20 percent to revisit its pre-recession peak of $66 trillion.

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