Japan’s foreign-exchange reserves totaled $852.03 billion at the end of March, up $1.97 billion from a month earlier and renewing a record high logged in January, the Finance Ministry said Friday.

But that tally was surpassed by China’s $853.6 billion in foreign-exchange reserves at the end of February. The figure, announced Monday by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Australia, suggests China has overtaken Japan as holder of the world’s biggest foreign-exchange reserves.

A Finance Ministry official in charge of foreign-exchange markets declined to comment, telling reporters the ministry has not yet seen official data from the People’s Bank of China.

The official said the increase in Japan’s reserves in March stemmed primarily from the growing value of Japan’s euro-denominated assets on the euro’s rise against the U.S. dollar.

According to the ministry, Japan had $710.21 billion in foreign securities as of March 31, up from $710.18 billion a month earlier.

Foreign currency deposits came to $122.44 billion, up from $121.40 billion.

Of the deposits, $7.72 billion was held in foreign central banks and the Basel-based Bank for International Settlements, $32.05 billion in Japanese banks and $82.66 billion in foreign financial institutions.

Japan had $14.32 billion in gold, up from $13.68 billion.

It had $2.14 billion in International Monetary Fund reserve positions, down from $2.20 billion, and $2.61 billion in IMF special drawing rights, up from $2.60 billion.

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