WASHINGTON — The average 401(k) balance has gone from $67,760 at the end of 1999 to $121,202 at the end of 2006, according to a new study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute and the Investment Company Institute.

The study found that most 401(k) assets are in stock. The popularity of life-cycle funds, which shift investments to “less risky” assets as people approach retirement, continues to rise, especially among new or recent hires, according to the data. The study also found that in 2006, 18% of 401(k) participants eligible for loans had taken one against their accounts. Most loans tended to be small, amounting, on average, to 12% of the remaining account balance.

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