NEW YORK -- Citing dramatic growth in Latin bond issues, J.P. Morgan & Co. said it has introduced the first Latin American Eurobond index to track some 46 dollar-denominated bonds with a face value of $8.6 billion.

The index comprises the most liquid issues -- chiefly from Mexico, Argentina, Venezuela, and Brazil -- in the market issued since Dec. 31, 1991. Since then the index has returned 25.8%, outperforming U.S. bonds but lagging the sovereign Brady bond market, Morgan said.

The bonds are plucked from a universe of some $24.3 billion in outstanding Latin Eurobonds.

"The dramatic growth in this market led J.P. Morgan to launch the LEI to provide investors with a well-defined performance benchmark as well as a basis for comparing risk and return in this market to others," a statement said.

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