Shareholder redemptions of stock funds steadily accelerated in 1997 and 1998, a trend which could change the priorities of mutual fund companies.

Stock fund redemption rates as a percentage of new fund sales have risen from 54.4 percent in 1996 to 76.2 percent last year, according to a recent report from Financial Research Corp., a fund research firm in Boston. Shareholders appear to be taking at least a portion of the proceeds of their sales and investing in lower-margin money market funds, perhaps with an eye to ultimately investing directly in stocks or separate accounts, according to FRC.

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