(Adds U.S. Treasury purchasing data)
NEW YORK May 15 Foreign capital inflow into U.S. Treasuries declined in March after strong numbers the previous month, but support for this asset class came mainly from an unconventional buyer -- Belgium.
Holdings of U.S. Treasuries in Belgium rose a net $40.2 billion in the month. Over the last five months, Belgium's buying totaled about $201.1 billion.
This euro zone country is now the third largest holder of U.S. Treasuries with $381.4 billion, after China and Japan.
"This is consistent with the recent trends and continues to suggest another country is running their purchases through a Belgium-based custodian," said Ian Lyngen, senior government bond strategist, at CRT Capital in Stamford, Connecticut.
Overall, Treasuries posted net inflows of $25.9 billion two months ago, from $92.5 billion in February.
In total, foreigners bought $4 billion in long-term U.S. financial assets in March, compared with revised inflows of $90.3 billion the previous month.
Including short-dated assets such as bills, overseas investors sold $126.1 billion in March, reversing inflows of $175.9 billion in February. (Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Editing by W Simon)