WASHINGTON (AP) -- Foreign demand for U.S. Treasury securities rose to a record level in December, evidence that overseas investors remained confident in U.S. debt despite ongoing budget battles in Washington.

The Treasury Department said Friday that foreign holdings of U.S. Treasurys rose 0.3 percent in December from November to $5.56 trillion. It was the 12th consecutive monthly gain.

China, the top foreign holder, increased its holdings 1.7 percent to $1.2 trillion. Japan, the second largest holder, boosted its investment 0.2 percent to $1.12 trillion.

Demand kept rising in December even as Congress approached a deadline to raise the government's $16.4 trillion borrowing limit. In January, Congress approved a measure to temporarily suspend the borrowing limit until May 19. That has allowed the government to take on more debt while the debate continues.

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