China Cuts Holdings of U.S. Treasurys for 5th Month

By Martin Crutsinger | May 16, 2011 | 11:34 AM EDT

Washington (AP) - China, the biggest buyer of U.S. securities, trimmed its holdings for a fifth straight month.

The Treasury Department said Monday that China cut its holdings by $9.2 billion to $1.14 trillion.

Japan, the second-largest foreign holder, boosted its holdings by $17.6 billion to $907.9 billion. There had been concerns that the March 11 earthquake and tsunami would lead Japan to scale back its purchases so it could use the money for reconstruction.

Total foreign holdings increased by $4.9 billion to $4.48 trillion.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the government will reach its $14.3 trillion borrowing limit on Monday. Treasury officials have said they will be able to continue regular debt auctions until August.

Republicans have held back supporting an increase in the borrowing limit, saying they first want Congress agree to more spending cuts.

Geithner on Monday said he will halt investments in two big government pension plans immediately to allow the government to continue borrowing money for the next few months.

Geithner has suspended pension payments in past congressional debates over raising the borrowing limit. The money that the two pension funds will lose will be replaced if Congress votes to raise the borrowing limit.

Geithner said the bookkeeping maneuvers and unexpected revenue will allow the government to delay an unprecedented default on the national debt until Aug. 2.