MILAN, Aug 28 (Reuters) - Italian government bonds held by banks operating in the country slightly rose to 383.5 billion euros ($439 billion) in July, from 380.5 billion a month earlier, data from the European Central Bank showed on Tuesday.
The July figure marks the highest level since May 2017 and is the seventh monthly increase in a row.
Domestic banks have stepped up purchases of government bonds as foreign investors reduced theirs in the last few months.
Foreign investors shed a net 33 billion euros in Italian government bonds in June, the Bank of Italy said last week, following a 25 billion sell-off in May, spooked by pledges to ramp up spending and unwind past deficit-curbing reforms from Italy’s new anti-establishment government. ($1 = 0.8744 euros) (Reporting by Luca Trogni; writing by Giulia Segreti; editing by Francesca Landini)