Scandal be damned. Mutual funds had a fabulous 2004, Bloomberg News reports. Assets in U.S.-based stock, bond and money-market funds surged to $7.9 trillion last November, according to Investment Company Institute data, from $7.4 trillion at the end of 2003. To put that $500 billion increase in perspective, the entire fund industry consisted of $500 billion in 1985.

December data, which will come out later this month, is expected to show investments above $8 trillion for the first time. Last month's stock market rally itself is said to have contributed to the gain by more than $100 billion.

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