Jan 16, 4:15 PM EST

Foreign holdings of US Treasury securities up

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- Foreign holdings of U.S. Treasury securities rose to a record level in November following two months of declines, reflecting a big increase in purchases by Japan.

The Treasury Department said Friday that foreign holdings increased 1 percent to a record $6.11 trillion in November following small declines in October and September.

Japan, the No. 2 foreign buyer of Treasury debt, boosted its holdings 1.6 percent to $1.24 trillion while China, the No. 1 holder of Treasury debt, trimmed its holdings by 0.2 percent to $1.25 trillion. It was the third straight month that China's holdings have fallen.

Demand for Treasury securities, still viewed as one of the world's safest investments, is expected to remain strong this year with U.S. government bonds viewed as a safe haven in often turbulent global markets.

Foreign governments, through their central banks, account for $4.13 trillion - two-thirds - of the foreign holdings. In November, the foreign government holdings increased by 0.3 percent.

Republicans now control both the House and the Senate as a result of a strong showing in the November elections.

The current suspension of the government's borrowing limit expires on March 15. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he does not support using the threat of a possible default on the debt as a bargaining chip in future budget battles.

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