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By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss
NEW YORK, June 15 (Reuters) - Foreign holdings of Treasuries rose in April, data from the Treasury Department showed on Tuesday, as investors bought back U.S. government debt after yields started to decline from their highs.
Major foreign holders of Treasuries held $7.070 trillion in Treasuries in April, up from $7.028 trillion in March.
Japan, the largest foreign holder of U.S. sovereign paper, led the way, increasing its holdings to $1.276 trillion in April, from $1.24 trillion the previous month. Japanese investors sold Treasuries in February and March as their holdings declined.
"It looks like Japanese investors sold into the sell-off and then bought once rates stabilized," said Gennadiy Goldberg, senior rates strategist at TD Securities in New York.
"In February and March, rates were higher and in April they were stabilizing near the peak, so it looks like they bought quite substantially," he added.
U.S. benchmark 10-year Treasury yields started April with a yield of 1.679%, slipping to 1.631% by the end of that month.
China's holdings, meanwhile, slid to $1.096 trillion from $1.1 trillion in March. Its stock of Treasuries has declined for two straight months.
On a transaction basis, foreigners purchased $49.57 billion in Treasuries in April, after record inflows of $118.87 billion the previous month.
Data also showed U.S. corporate bonds had inflows of $10.14 billion in April, down from $43.1 billion in March, which was the largest since May 2008.
Foreign investors, meanwhile, sold $13.3 billion in U.S. equities in April, from purchases of $32.3 billion in March. April's U.S. stocks outflow was the first in 12 months.
U.S. residents decreased their holdings of long-term foreign securities, with net sales of $7.5 billion, according to the Treasury data.
Overall, net foreign acquisitions of U.S. long-term and short-term securities, as well as banking flows, fell to a net inflow of $101.2 billion in April, from $146.7 billion in March. (Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Dan Grebler)