WHAT HAPPENED: American households' net worth rose 5 percent, to $53.4 trillion, in the third quarter. It was the second straight quarterly increase.
WHY: Stock investments surged about 17 percent. Home values rose a modest 2 percent.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN: It's a hopeful sign for the economy. But analysts say it could take three more years for net worth to return to its pre-recession peak. Home prices are likely to drop again. And the stock market rally doesn't appear sustainable.