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China boosts holdings of U.S. Treasuries

Staff writer |
China remained the largest holder of US debt in January, increasing its holdings for the first time in two months even as overall foreign demand for US Treasury securities weakened, according to new data from the Treasury Department.

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Treasuries saw an outflow of $571 million at the start of the year, from an inflow of $17.9 billion in December. Foreign official institutions sold $16.7 billion in January and $11.9 billion in the final month of the year, data showed.

Analysts said they saw no significance in China's move to add $3.5 billion in Treasuries - less than 1 percent - for a total $1.274 trillion, despite weaker overall foreign buying. It was the first increase in holdings of US debt by the world's second-largest economy since it bought $12.2 billion of Treasuries in November.

"The two-month moving average of China's holdings is still a downtrend," Michael Woolfolk, senior market strategist at BNY Mellon in New York, said. "The Chinese have not been investing in US Treasuries at the level they had in the past."

Japan remained the second-biggest foreign US creditor, boosting its holdings 1.6 percent to $1.201 trillion.

The US government initially released a report on Tuesday that showed total holdings declining in January, but a few hours later released a corrected version with changes to the overall and individual country figures.

January's figures were the latest example of how China's buying of US Treasuries has fluctuated in recent months amid what the nation's leadership says is an economic rebalancing toward consumer spending and away from investment and exports.


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