Moderate inflation, a surge of mergers and acquisitions, and the voracious appetites of bank and institutional investors fueled the booming bank loan and high-yield bond markets in 1997.

Syndicated lending volume already stood at $831 billion on Oct. 31, according to Securities Data Co., putting this year's market on track to surpass the $1 trillion mark for the first time. While the outlook for next year is less clear, lenders are cautiously optimistic that some favorable trends that began in recent months will continue in 1998.

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