MasterCard International said it achieved a 17% growth in U.S. transactions last year, to $310.7 billion.

The U.S. volume accounted for 48% of MasterCard's world total of $650.2 billion, which was up 8%.

MasterCard had pre-announced the U.S. figure on March 31, just after Visa U.S.A. said it had a 16% increase in 1998, to $610.3 billion. In a more detailed release Monday, MasterCard said its faster growth resulted in a 0.5-point gain in U.S. general-purpose card market share, to 26.9%, as calculated by The Nilson Report.

It also cited figures from BAIGlobal of Tarrytown, N.Y., showing that MasterCard's share of U.S. direct-mail solicitations rose to an all-time high of 46%, from 41%. MasterCard's international growth rate suffered because the troubled Asia-Pacific region was off 8%. Europe rose 18%, Middle East-Africa 23%, Canada 17%, and Latin America 14%.

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