Though too early to officially call it, JPMorgan Securities is clinging to a slight $1 billion lead heading into the final week of the year, just over Credit Suisse First Boston and Citibank/Salomon Smith Barney - last year's two top underwriters of ABS - which are in a virtual tie for second place. In 2001, Salomon eked out a win on the last trading day of the year, taking it by less $100 million (See ASR 1/7/02).

Through late last week, JPMorgan had sold about $48 billion of public and Rule 144A ABS product and has already eclipsed its 2001 total volume by more than $5 billion. CS First Boston and Salomon each had $47 billion of ABS supply sold.

Just as impressive, Banc of America Securities, which ended 2001 with less than $24 billion in proceeds, is sitting pretty almost $40 billion for 2002, despite some high profile defections in its asset-backed finance group earlier this year. BofA of course benefited from the piecemeal disposition of its EquiCredit home equity portfolio. Hanging tough with BofA is Deutsche Bank, which is also approaching $40 billion in underwriting volume for the year.

Just out of the top five, Morgan Stanley has moved into sixth place with roughly $35 billion, boosted by a fourth-quarter flurry of underwriting activity. Close on Morgan Stanley's heels is Lehman Brothers, with more than $30 billion of ABS product sold.

Boosted by unprecedented levels of mortgage originations and refinance activity, Countrywide Securities - primarily a mortgage-related ABS shop - is in the top ten, with over $18 billion in proceeds. Rounding out the top ten, Banc One Capital Markets is sitting in ninth place, with greater than $16 billion and it is too close to call the tenth-leading ABS underwriter of 2002, as Bear Stearns & Co. and Merrill Lynch each account for $16 billion of ABS supply, heading into the final week of trading. - KD/MG

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