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Aug 15, 4:30 PM EDT

Foreign holdings of Treasury debt rose in June



WASHINGTON (AP) -- Foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury securities rose in June after falling in the two previous months.

The Treasury Department reported Monday that total foreign holdings climbed 1.1 percent in June to $6.28 trillion after declining 0.5 percent in May and 0.8 percent in April.

Japan, the second-biggest foreign owner of Treasury securities, increased its holdings by 1.3 percent to $1.15 trillion. That helped offset a reduction by China, the top foreign owner of Treasury debt, which trimmed its holdings in June by 0.3 percent to $1.24 trillion.

Ireland ranked third in foreign ownership of Treasury debt. It boosted its holdings 4.2 percent to $270.6 billion. The Cayman Islands, an offshore banking center, ranked fourth, expanding its holdings by 3.5 percent to $269.4 billion.

The national debt stands at $19.37 trillion and is projected to increase in coming years as the annual budget deficits rise, reflecting the higher costs of financing Social Security and Medicare for retiring baby boomers. That rising debt burden means the United States will need foreigners to keep buying Treasury securities.

Of the debt total, $14 trillion is publicly traded on financial markets. The rest is money the government owes itself, including holdings in the Social Security trust fund.

Foreigners own about 45 percent of the publicly traded debt. Most of those holdings - more than $4 trillion - belong to foreign governments, primarily central banks. They see Treasury securities as one of the world's safest investments.

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