JPMorgan sells off short-term US government debt

NEW YORK (AP) - Investment banking giant JPMorgan Chase said Thursday it has sold all of its exposure to short-term U.S. government debt out of its money market funds, following a similar move by other money market mutual fund managers.

The announcement comes a day after Fidelity Investments, the nation's largest manager of money market mutual funds, said it no longer holds any U.S. government debt that comes due around the time the nation could hit its borrowing limit.

In a statement Thursday, JPMorgan said its money market funds no longer held any U.S. Treasurys that mature or have payments scheduled between Oct. 16 and Nov. 6. The New York bank said it has also increased its liquidity position in the funds. JPMorgan holds about $257 billion in its money market funds, according to its website.

While JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it believes the probability of a U.S. government default is low, it is taking precautionary measures to protect investors.

Money market funds like JPMorgan and Fidelity have been cutting back their exposure to short-term U.S. government debt for the last three weeks. Investors have concerns that if the U.S. government were to hit the debt ceiling, it would not be able to promptly pay back bondholders.

The yield on the one-month Treasury bill, the security that has been at the center of investor concerns, was at 0.21 percent late Thursday. While that is down from the 0.35 percent it hit earlier in the week, it's well above normal levels. A month ago, one-month T-bills had a yield near zero.

Money market funds are typically ultra-safe places to park money, investing primarily in short-term debt that can be easily bought and sold. In a money market fund, investors expect to get back every dollar they invest.

A spokeswoman from JPMorgan Chase said the move only applies to the bank's asset management business.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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