There is new statistical support for the industry axiom that nothing sells like a top Morningstar rating.

Funds with the two highest Morningstar ratings at the end of 1997 took in 72 percent - or about $160 billion - of new sales last year, according to Financial Research Corp., the Boston fund research and tracking firm. Indeed, Morningstar's top-rated funds, which carry five-star ratings, accounted for nearly 43 percent of fund sales last year, according to Financial Research, which issued a report on the subject in February.

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