(Adds U.S. Treasury purchasing data, buying of other financial
By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK May 15 Foreign capital inflow into
U.S. Treasuries declined sharply in March, with robust demand
coming mainly from Belgium, which extended its recent run of
heavy buying of U.S. debt.
Holdings of U.S. Treasuries in Belgium rose a net $40.2
billion in the month. Over the last five months, Belgium's net
increase totaled about $201.1 billion.
The euro zone nation is now the third largest holder of U.S.
Treasuries with $381.4 billion, after China and Japan.
The purchases from Belgium were mainly in short-term bills
from November to March. But over the same period, Belgian
institutions sold $6.82 billion in long-term U.S. Treasury notes
and bonds, the data showed.
Who is behind the large purchases from Belgium is unclear.
Euroclear, a major clearinghouse in Europe, is based in
Belgium and provides cross-border settlement and custodial
facilities. Clearing houses hold collateral such as Treasuries.
Meanwhile, the largest seller of U.S. Treasury securities
was Russia at $25.8 billion, mainly in bills. Russian selling of
U.S. bonds and notes totaled just $141 million.
Overall, U.S. Treasuries posted net inflows of $25.9 billion
in March, slumping from $92.5 billion in February.
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 government and
non-government bills, overseas investors sold $126.1 billion in
March, reversing inflows of $175.9 billion in February.
Offshore investors also sold U.S. stocks for a fifth
straight month, according to the data. U.S. stocks showed a net
outflow of $14.4 billion, the largest since August last year.
"It's broadly disappointing," said Vassili Serebriakov,
currency strategist at BNP Paribas in New York. "It suggests
that the U.S. dollar is lacking structural support from capital
(Additional reporting by Phil Blenkinsop in Brussels Editing by