China's holdings of US debt revised up to $1.16t

Updated: 2011-03-01 09:20
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WASHINGTON - China's holdings of long-term US Treasury securities totaled $1.16 trillion at the end of December 2010, according to an annual revision report released by the US Treasury Department on Monday.

The figure was an increase of $268.5 billion, or 30 percent from an estimate the government reported on Feb 15.

The US Treasury made the change to its monthly report based on more accurate information it obtains in an annual survey.

Foreign holdings of US long-term securities reflect demand for US Treasury obligations and other assets including stocks and government agency debt, a key to funding the massive US balance of payments deficit with the rest of the world.  

The report showed that China, the largest holder of US Treasury securities, reduced its holdings by $4 billion in December from $1.164 trillion in November.

In the monthly report released two weeks ago, it said that China trimmed its holdings from $895.6 billion in November to $891.6 billion in December.

In the new report, Japan, the second largest foreign holder of US government debt, raised its holdings to $882.3 billion in December. That was $1.3 billion less than the estimate in the monthly report.

Britain, the third largest owner of US debt, boosted its holdings to $272.1 billion in December from $242.5 billion in November.

Britain's holdings were revised lower by $269.2 billion from the monthly report.

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Total foreign holdings of US long-term securities in December 2010 reached $4.44 trillion, up from $4.41 trillion from November. The new figure in year end 2010 is $70 billion more than the government's previous estimate in its monthly report.

The Treasury Department refused to comment on the revised figures.

The debt figures are closely watched at a time when more and more Americans believe that the US soaring debt is unsustainable. The federal debt has surpassed $14 trillion at the end of 2010 and the federal government is at the edge of bankruptcy if the Congress does not increase the debt ceiling which is $14.3 trillion before the deadline of March 4.

US federal budget deficit reached $1.29 trillion in the fiscal year 2010 ended Sept 30. It recorded a historic high of $1.42 trillion in fiscal year 2009 when the economy was hit hard by the financial crisis.  

According to President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2012 budget which was sent to Congress earlier this month, the US federal deficit in 2011 is expected to hit a new record of $1.65 trillion.