U.S. Treasury slashes first-quarter borrowing estimate due to higher cash balance

February 1, 2021 3:03 PM EST

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By Karen Brettell

(Reuters) - The U.S. Treasury said on Monday it plans to borrow $274 billion in the first quarter, significantly lower than the November estimate of $1.127 trillion, with the decline due to the department's higher cash balance at the beginning of January.

The Treasury last year increased its borrowing projections to account for an estimated $1 trillion in fiscal spending to address the economic devastation from COVID-19-related business shutdowns.

A $900 billion stimulus bill was not signed into law until Dec. 27, however, leaving the Treasury with a larger than anticipated cash balance of $1.729 trillion at the end of 2020.

Current borrowing projections do not account for any new fiscal spending, as any predictions are unlikely to be correct and may differ from what other market participants expect.

“There’s just a wide range in what is being proposed in potential future legislation,” a senior Treasury official said on a call with reporters.

The first-quarter borrowing estimate assumes an end-March cash balance of $800 billion, the Treasury said in a statement.

For the second quarter of 2021, the Treasury said it plans to issue $95 billion in net marketable debt, assuming an end-June cash balance of $500 billion.

The Treasury also said it issued $597 billion in net debt in the fourth quarter of 2020.

(Reporting By Karen Brettell; Editing by Paul Simao and Nick Macfie)

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