The number of new federal class-action lawsuits filed by investors has dropped dramatically and is now at its lowest level since 1996, according to a new study out of Stanford University.

Just over 60 new class-action shareholder lawsuits were filed in the first six months of 2006, compared with 111 in the first half of 2005. If the trend continues for the rest of the year, the 2006 totals will be 31 percent lower than the 182 lawsuits filed last year.

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