The number of teenagers who own mutual funds increased slightly from last year while the number of teenagers with jobs who own mutual funds increased significantly, according to a study released last week by Merrill Lynch of Princeton, N.J. Twenty percent of teenagers with jobs owned mutual funds, according to the study.

Overall, 12 percent of teenagers polled said they owned mutual funds, up from 11 percent at this time last year. Meanwhile, the percentage of teens with jobs who said they owned mutual funds was up from 13 percent only a year ago, according to the study. Only 10 percent of unemployed teens reported they owned mutual funds.

Most of the teens who reported owning a mutual fund received the fund from a parent, according to Katie Hynes, a spokesperson for Merrill Lynch. Funds that invest in consumer goods that teenagers buy are the most popular with the group, she said.

A total of 515 boys and girls between the ages of 12 and 17 participated in the survey, conducted early this year. Similar surveys were conducted in early 1998 and 1999.

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