Total U.S. retirement assets rose 6.3 percent to $18.9 trillion in the first quarter of 2012, up from $17.8 trillion on Dec. 31, 2011, according to data compiled by the Investment Company Institute.

The increase in retirement assets was driven in part by the rise in corporate equity values. The S&P 500 Total Return Index grew by 12.6 percent in the first quarter, for example. Retirement savings accounted for 36 percent of all household financial assets in the United States at the end of the first quarter.

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