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WASHINGTON – An annual survey by the Profit Sharing/401(k) Council of America reveals that 76% of eligible employees participated in their 401(k) plans in 2003, down from 80% the year before. The 2003 research compiled responses from sponsors of 1,161 plans of all sizes, with a combined total of more than 3.4 million participants and $412 billion in assets. The number of funds offered to participants, meanwhile, continued to rise. In 2003, plans offered an average of 17 funds compared with 15 in 2002. According to David Wray, president of PSCA, the market’s decline over recent years, improper mutual-fund trading practices and fund fee investigations, and this year’s change between traditional 401(k)s and those with a profit-sharing component, may be among the reasons for the drop in 401(k) participation. The study also showed that the average company match in a 401(k) plan last year was 3% of pay, up slightly from the year before. Still, the match has yet to climb back to the 3.3% level of 1999, before the market downturn cut into companies’ profitability. New Bonds Tracking Site Launches for Credit UnionsSARASOTA, Fla. – Credit unions now have access to a Web site that features live markets for fixed-income investments. Bonds.com offers the ability to enter certain securities by CUSIP, price the securities or “stress” them to understand their performance in different interest rate environments. There’s also an education section covering fixed income securities, economic commentary and linked to such sites at FNAM, FHLB and FHLMC. The new site is provided by Sovereign Securities Corp. LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sovereign Bank.

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