Advertising by mutual fund companies and other investment firms fell to its lowest levels of the year, slipping by more than $6.5 million during the third quarter, according to data from New York research firm Competitrack. The declines were largely the result of a typical slump in fund advertising during the months of July through September, analysts said, but companies are still stung by dwindling assets under management and swooning markets.

Advertising fell to $30.1 million in the third quarter, compared to $36.6 million in the second, Competitrack said. In 2001, fund companies spent more than $40 million in the second quarter and $37.2 million in the third, marking a 19% decline in the third quarter of this year from year-earlier levels.

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