Continuing a longstanding trend during this protracted bear market, mutual fund companies cut their advertising budgets 48% in 2002, spending $132.8 million as of Nov. 30, compared to $257.8 million in all of 2001, according to Competitrack, a New York firm that monitors advertising.

Observers see the trend continuing throughout 2003. Until markets recover, and investors have more compelling reasons to return to equity investing from their refuge in fixed-income funds and other more-stable vehicles, fund companies are expected to continue to retrench.

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