Increasing confidence among investors combined with poor yields among bank and money market funds could result in the best quarter for equity mutual fund flows since markets began their tailspin two years ago, according to New York-based researcher Strategic Insight.

The firm projects that equity funds will post inflows of $60 billion, the largest amount for any quarter since the second quarter of 2000. The firm speculates that the boon could also be the result of seasonal investing, increasing use of retirement and 529 college savings plans, and a continuing shift among investors from individual equities to diversified mutual funds.

The projections are based on an analysis of January and February data as well as estimates for March. Strategic Insight estimates that open-end equity and balanced funds posted inflows of more than $11 billion in February.

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