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US Denies Sell-off of Treasuries
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Deputy US Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt yesterday said he has not seen evidence that China and other Asian nations are selling off US treasuries.


"I think (China) will have a range of assets in (its) investment portfolio," he said at a press briefing. "I think (China) and other sovereigns will continue to hold (US) treasury securities," he said.


Kimmitt is on a tour of China and Russia to reassure investors that the United States remains open to foreign investments.


China sold more US treasury securities in April than any other time in at least seven years, according to the US Treasury Department website.


China sold a net US$5.8 billion of treasuries, the first drop in its holdings since October 2005, according to statistics on the website. The country held a total of US$414 billion, according to the US Treasury Department.


The Chinese Ministry of Finance was not available for comment.


Analysts said China's recent cutbacks in its holdings do not indicate it will lead to a drastic sell-off of US treasuries, although it's part of its preset strategy to diversify its foreign exchange reserve investment portfolio.


Zhao Xijun, finance professor of the Renmin University of China, said: "It's not surprising that China is selling that amount of US treasuries."


The US treasuries market may influence the US benchmark prices and China, as an important holder of US treasuries, may send a signal to other investors and markets by selling a part of its holdings, Zhao said.


China won't sell US treasuries in a large scale, however, because it's a fairly good choice for investors. "Its security and liquidity are better than many other investment options."


But the market is ever-changing and it's normal for investors to fine-tune their strategies, he said. The weak dollar since last year has accelerated such investment diversification, he added.


Though China may reduce some of its holdings of US treasuries, Zhao said the money may not flow out of US soil. "It may be shifted to other fields, such as corporate bonds and the stock market."


China decided in January that a part of its US$1.2 trillion foreign exchange reserves may be diverted to commercial investments with higher yields.


Kimmitt told reporters it is important to open up to foreign investors and that he has not seen signs of rising nationalism in China toward foreign investors. "I haven't seen any indication of increasing nationalism."


On the financial spat with the Democratic People's Republic of Korea over the frozen funds at a Macao bank, Kimmitt said he is working toward returning the money and efforts are "in progress".


(China Daily June 20, 2007)


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