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BOSTON — The newfound confidence that investors showed at the start of the year held up through the end of January, boosting cash flows into stock mutual funds to the highest levels in more than a decade.

By one measure, funds attracted cash at the fastest pace in 17 years. The $34.2 billion of net deposits into stock mutual funds and exchange-traded funds for the four weeks ended Jan. 30 was the largest four-week total since January 1996, according to Lipper.

Other fund researchers also report high levels of cash coming in as stock prices climbed to five-year highs. January was the first time in 11 months that deposits into U.S. stock funds exceeded withdrawals. That’s led to predictions that stock funds will continue to attract cash in coming months as the economy improves.

If flows continue to be positive, 2013 would be the first year since 2006 that U.S. stock funds have attracted cash, according to Strategic Insight. Nearly $405 billion has been pulled out since the beginning of 2007, the year the stock market hit a historic high.