Lending by U.S. and foreign banks to Latin America in the first three quarters reached $37 billion, a startling 27% jump from all of 1996, according to Loan Pricing Corp.

Chase Manhattan Corp. syndicated the largest number of loans, with 32 deals, valued at nearly $10 billion.

BankAmerica Corp. arranged slightly more than $8 billion worth; Citicorp, nearly $7 billion; and J.P. Morgan & Co., $6.8 billion. Bankers Trust New York Corp. arranged $2.6 billion worth, and NationsBank Corp., nearly $2 billion.

However, Loan Pricing noted that "the heady growth comes as pricing in many areas of Latin America continues to set record lows, falling by nearly 50% during the past three months in certain regions."

"Competition for deals is as fierce as ever, as yield-starved lenders continue to pressure pricing, in some cases past comparable U.S. levels," the company added.

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