NEW YORK -- Kidder, Peabody & Co. retained its top spot in mortgage-backed securities underwriting for the third quarter of 1994, according to preliminary data from Securities Data Co.

Merrill Lynch & Co. rose to the top place in asset-backed underwriting, winning 28.5% of market share for the third quarter.

CS First Boston Inc. was a close second with 28.1% of market share, according to the preliminary data.

Total industry-wide issuance of mortgage-backed securities is down dramatically to $12.38 billion in the third quarter, compared with $132.32 billion for the same period last year.

In contrast, asset-backed issuance is up slightly to $16.95 billion, compared to $14.16 billion for the third quarter in 1993.

Kidder, Peabody outpaced its closest rival by a wide margin, gainmg 21.3% of market share with nine issues totaling $2.54 billion.

In second place, CS First Boston controlled 16.6% of market share, with 14 deals adding up to $2.06 billion.

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