First-quarter trading of emerging-market debt was off 25% from a year earlier, to $1.22 trillion, mainly because of a sharp drop in trading of Latin American debt.

A report by the New York-based Emerging Market Traders Association said much of the decline in Latin debt trading stemmed from a surge Asian and Russia debt trading, thin profit margins on prices, and an unwillingness to stake out positions as a result of the Asian financial crisis.

Trading in Latin American debt instruments accounted for 69% of the total, down from 84% a year earlier, while trading in Russian, South African, and Turkish debt rose sharply. Trading in Asian debt jumped 84% because of sharp increases in turnover in South Korean, Thai, Philippine, and Indonesian debt.

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