Mutual fund assets worldwide rose to $13.96 trillion at the end of the fourth quarter, an increase of about 9% from the previous quarter, according to annual data Tuesday from the Investment Company Institute.

Asset growth was boosted by positive stock market returns in almost all reporting countries and a continuing net flow of new investments. Net cash flow to all funds worldwide was $74 billion in the fourth quarter, and equity funds reported strong net cash inflows.

The institute compiles data worldwide on behalf of the International Investment Funds Association, an organization of national mutual fund associations. The fourth-quarter data cover 39 countries.

Rising equity prices and continued strong demand for equity funds bolstered fund assets worldwide in the fourth quarter. Measured in local currencies, fund assets grew in the fourth quarter in most reporting countries. Weakness in the U.S. dollar also contributed to dollar-denominated asset increases.

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