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Household wealth regains footing

WASHINGTON — It took 5½ years. Surging stock prices and steady home-price increases have finally allowed Americans to regain the $16 trillion in wealth lost to the Great Recession.

The gains are helping to support the economy and could lead to further spending and growth.

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Household wealth amounted to $66.1 trillion at the end of 2012, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. That was $1.2 trillion more than three months earlier and 98 percent of the pre-recession peak.

Further increases in stock and home prices this year mean that Americans’ net worth has since topped the pre-recession peak of $67.4 trillion, private economists say.

Wealth had bottomed at $51.2 trillion in early 2009.

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