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Countdown to zero: Russia continues dumping US debt

Foreign investors have accelerated the reduction of US debt securities, selling $21.7 billion of their holdings in March, according to data released on Wednesday by the US Treasury Department.

Russia, which is no longer a leading creditor of the US, after an unprecedented dumping of the US Treasury bonds in April and May, has slashed its stockpile by almost $800 million in March to $13.716 billion.

Russia has cut nearly 85 percent of its US Treasury holdings from $96.9 billion in January 2018. The drop is even more significant from 2012, when Russia held over $170 billion in US debt bonds.

The largest US creditor China sold $20.45 billion in Treasuries in March, the most since October 2016, following $1.08 billion in purchases the month before.

“The decline this month brings China essentially flat to where they were in February, erasing the increases from December through February,” Jefferies LLC’s senior money market economist Tom Simons told Reuters.

Japan, the second largest US debt holder, raised its Treasuries holdings to $1.078 trillion, the highest since November 2017, from $1.072 trillion in February.

However, another set of Treasury data shows Japan sold $11.07 billion in US government debt in March, the most since February 2018.

The US national debt has climbed above $22 trillion this year and is projected to continue rising by a trillion each year over the next decade.

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