U.S. investors have shown an increasing appetite for initial public offerings through the final quarter of 2010, as activity in the U.S. IPO market has already surpassed 2008 and 2009 levels, according to accounting firm PwC’s US IPO Watch, a quarterly and annual analysis by the firm of IPOs on U.S. stock exchanges, released Wednesday.

With 154 IPOs completed, that raised a total of $37.5 billion year-to-date, 2010 activity represents a 123 percent increase in volume and 49 percent increase in value, compared with the $25.2 billion raised from 69 IPOs in 2009. 

In addition, PwC says the surge of activity in the fourth quarter of 2010 confirms the IPO market has recovered from the doldrums of 2008 and 2009.

“Robust fourth quarter activity was largely driven by a continued wave of financial sponsor-backed IPOs, a welcomed interest from non-U.S. issuers, particularly from China and a near record-breaking IPO. 

With these factors in place and backed by the growing number of offerings in the pipeline, we expect continued momentum in U.S. IPO market activity as we enter 2011," said Scott Gehsmann, a capital markets partner in PwC’s transaction services practice.

As of Dec. 14, 55 IPOs were completed in the fourth quarter, raising a combined $23.5 billion, versus 35 IPOs which raised $17.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2009.  According to PwC, this represents an increase of 57% in volume and 37% in value over the fourth quarter of 2009. 

The current quarter’s data includes General Motors' offering of $15.8 billion, representing 67% of the quarter’s proceeds, and the largest IPO in the U.S. markets since the Visa IPO ($17.9 billion) in the first quarter of 2008.  In 2009, the largest IPO of the year was also completed in the final quarter--the $7 billion Banco Santander S.A. deal.