WASHINGTON - U.S. banks' foreign lending exposure fell by $11.8 billion, or 2.4%, to $489.8 billion in the third quarter, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Federal Reserve Board.Much of the decline occurred in Japan, where creditors owed U.S. banks $5 billion less than in the second quarter. Overall, G-10 countries - the 10 largest industrialized countries - and Switzerland accounted for 68.6% of the worldwide decline. Outstanding loans to Latin American and Caribbean countries shrank by $2 billion, to $63.1 billion.

The data cover 108 U.S. banks, including Bank of America Corp., Citigroup, Chase Manhattan Corp., and First Union Corp. The Country Exposure Lending Survey is released about 13 weeks after each quarter it covers has ended.

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