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China's US Treasuries holdings hit lowest since 2013

A clerk of ICBC bank counts Chinese 100 yuan at its branch in Beijing.
Kim Kyung-Hoon | Reuters

China's holdings of U.S. Treasuries fell in July to their lowest since early 2013 as official ownership of U.S. government debt declined for a fourth straight month, data from the U.S. Treasury Department showed on Friday.

China, which remained the bigger U.S. creditor, owned $1.219 trillion of U.S. government debt in July. This was the lowest level since $1.214 trillion in January 2013.

The relatively steep monthly drop in China's Treasuries holdings may raise questions about how much the world's No. 2 economy may be spending from its currency reserves to support the yuan.

There has been speculation that China's central bank will try to keep the currency stable before its official inclusion in the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights basket in October.

Japan maintained its status as the second-biggest holder of U.S. Treasuries at $1.155 trillion, which was the most since September 2015 when it was $1.177 trillion.

Overall, foreign investors sold $13.1 billion in U.S. government debt in July, following $32.9 billion in sales in June.

Overseas investors purchased $103.9 billion of U.S. long-term securities in July after selling $500 million in June.

The June sales figure was previously reported at $3.6 billion.

Including shorter-dated securities, overseas investors bought $140.6 billion in U.S. assets, compared with a revised $194.5 billion sold in June.