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US home price gains lift household wealth to $90.2 trillion

WASHINGTON — A healthy increase in home values and higher stock prices drove up U.S. household wealth in the July-September quarter, though the gains are largely concentrated among wealthier Americans.

The Federal Reserve says real estate values increased $554 billion in the third quarter, while Americans' stock and mutual fund portfolios rose $494 billion. Total household wealth, which includes checking and savings accounts and subtracts mortgages and other debt, increased 1.8 to $90.2 trillion.

The rise suggests that Americans' finances are improving, with more families building equity in their homes. Greater wealth can encourage more spending and boost economic growth.

Still, national wealth isn't widely shared, which limits the benefits of any increase. The wealthiest 1 held 42 of the nation's wealth in 2012, the latest data available.

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