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US Treasury plans new unit to monitor muni market - WSJ

April 17 (Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury Department is forming a new unit to monitor the municipal bond market, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing a Treasury official.

By boosting the department's monitoring of municipal finance, the Treasury hopes to better understand the ramifications of municipal-market stresses, the newspaper quoted the official as saying.

The unit, which will be headed by a veteran public-finance banker at JP Morgan Chase, will also track state and local pensions as well as the financing of bridges, roads and other infrastructure projects, the Journal said.

The unit will focus on troubled borrowers and will not have the authority to write and enforce rules for the market. (http://r.reuters.com/qyz58v)

Efforts to boost oversight of the municipal bond market have taken on new urgency after Detroit's bankruptcy and the financial problems in regions such as Puerto Rico, which has about $70 billion of outstanding debt.

Last month securities-sector regulator FINRA said it was examining secondary trades in Puerto Rico's blockbuster $3.5 billion bond deal for possible violations of rules.

A U.S. Treasury spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an email from Reuters seeking comment.

(Reporting by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)