The Central Bank of Russia has sold $3.1 billion in US Treasury bills as of February, reducing its investment in American debt to the lowest level since March last year.
Moscow still occupies the 16th position among the largest holders of US government bonds. Russia has cut its holdings for the third consecutive month.
Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said in February that Russia is not sticking to American debt and can replace it if it finds an adequate substitution elsewhere. “We are ready to invest in the securities issued by other sovereign states, the main thing is that they should be low-risk and accordingly bring income,” Siluanov said at the time.
China remains the largest buyer of US debt, increasing its holding by $8.5 billion to $1.18 trillion in February. Analysts say China can use its vast holdings of US treasuries as a bargaining chip in the trade dispute with President Donald Trump’s administration.
However, analysts doubt Beijing would start dumping American treasuries. “It is more effective as a threat. If they sell, they have no threat. It would only escalate the situation and eliminate their leverage,” according to bond investor Jeff Gundlach.
Global markets are still awaiting China’s reaction to the bilateral trade barriers imposed in March, since the data from the US Treasury comes with a two-month delay.
“That’s more of a slow-burning story. It’s a bit too soon for any tariff talk to have an impact of China’s Treasury holdings,”said Gennadiy Goldberg, interest rates strategist at TD Securities in New York, as quoted by Reuters.