Private equity funds in the U.S. raised nearly as much capital in the first three quarters of 2012 as during the entire 2011 calendar year, according to Dow Jones LP Source. In addition, 2012 commitments from limited partners in Europe are on track to surpass 2011 fundraising.

During the first three quarters of 2012, U.S. private equity firms raised $130.1 billion for 326 funds, a 36% increase in capital raised despite 19 fewer fund closings as compared with the first three quarters of 2011, and nearly matching the $131.5 billion total capital raised during 2011.

In the third quarter alone, 111 U.S. funds raised $40.6 billion as compared with 121 funds in the second quarter of 2012 that raised $47.3 billion, a decline of 14% in capital raised.

In Europe, fewer funds raised more capital during the first three quarters of 2012 compared with the year-ago period. Private equity firms raised $47.8 billion for 118 funds in the first three quarters, a 20% increase in capital raised.

However, momentum since the second quarter has slowed. Thirty-seven European funds raised $8.9 billion during the third quarter, a 42% decrease in the amount raised compared to last quarter.

“U.S. private equity firms have worked hard to return capital to their investors over the past two years and that’s given investors both additional capacity and confidence to fund new commitments,” said Laura Kreutzer, managing editor of Dow Jones Private Equity Analyst. “Although it’s far from easy to raise capital today, more private equity firms have the wind at their backs than did even a year or two ago.”