Foreign central banks boost U.S. debt holdings-Fed

NEW YORK Thu Feb 21, 2008 4:30pm EST

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NEW YORK Feb 21 (Reuters) - Foreign central banks were sizable buyers of U.S. debt in the latest week, with big agency purchases outweighing a decline in buying of Treasury bonds, U.S. Federal Reserve data showed on Thursday.

The Fed said its holdings of Treasury and agency debt kept for overseas central banks rose $13.172 billion in the week ended Feb. 20, to stand at $2.135 trillion.

The breakdown showed overseas central banks sold about $4.40 billion in Treasury debt, leaving the total at $1.266 trillion.

That was more than offset, however, by heavy buying of securities from government-sponsored agencies like Fannie Mae FNM.N and Freddie Mac FRE.N. Foreign institutions added an unusually large $17.57 billion to their agency holdings for a total $868.67 billion.

Overseas central banks, particularly those in Asia, have been huge buyers of U.S. debt in recent years, and own over a quarter of marketable Treasuries.

The full Fed report can be found on:

here (Reporting by Pedro Nicolaci da Costa; Editing by James Dalgleish; )

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