Apart from RBI, it is learnt that Indian commercial banks have also started deploying some of their surplus funds in overseas sovereign papers Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

New Delhi: India’s holding of US government securities surged by more than $20 billion in just three months ended June to $220.2 billion amid rising foreign exchange reserves.

Compared to June last year, when most of the economic activities were ravaged by the coronavirus pandemic, the exposure of India to the US Treasury securities jumped by nearly $40 billion.

Latest data from the US Treasury Department showed that India, with holding worth $220.2 billion at the end of June this year, is the 11th largest holder of these securities while Japan has the most exposure at little over $1.27 trillion.

Rising exposure

India has been steadily hiking its exposure to the treasury securities since March when it was at $200 billion. In April, the holding rose to $208.7 billion and then to $215.8 billion at the end of May.

Unmesh Kulkarni, Managing Director Senior Advisor at wealth management major Julius Baer India, said the rise in India’s exposure to US treasuries needs to be seen in the context of the continuous build-up of the country’s forex reserves.

“US Treasury yields, after bottoming out around the middle of last year and rising steadily thereafter, have been on a decline since May’21, while RBI has been gradually raising its exposure since April 21,” he told PTI.

Strong gains
Forex reserves of India stood at $619.365 billion in the week ended August 13 after touching a record high of $621.464 billion in the previous reporting week.

Kulkarni noted that domestic liquidity in the Indian money markets has been ruling high, and RBI has been trying to normalise the liquidity situation through variable rate reverse repo auctions.

“The increasing forex reserves further add to the domestic rupee liquidity, and therefore it makes sense for RBI to drain a part of the surplus liquidity by purchasing forex assets.

Among forex sovereign assets, the US dollar is generally the more preferred currency of the RBI; contrary to market expectations, the US dollar has been stable in the current calendar year so far and has in fact appreciated 4.1 per cent (Dollar Index) and 1.8 per cent against the INR.

- Unmesh Kulkarni, Managing Director Senior Advisor at wealth management major Julius Baer India

Japan leads

In terms of US Treasury securities’ holding, Japan is at the top followed by China with an exposure of $1.061 trillion at the end of June.

At the third spot was the United Kingdom with holding worth $452.9 billion, followed by Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Brazil, Cayman Islands, Taiwan and Belgium, as per the data.