* Japan investors sell net Y288 bln of German bonds in July
* Buy net 615 bln of French debt, also buy Y703 bln of US bonds
* Shift to relatively higher yielding French debt seen continuing (Adds detail, quotes)
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Japanese investors continued selling German bonds while buying relatively higher yielding French debt in July, data from Japan’s Ministry of Finance showed on Monday.
The investors offloaded a net 288.4 billion yen ($2.60 billion) of German bonds, marking the fourth straight month of selling.
On the other hand they bought a net 615.1 billion yen of French debt in July for their second consecutive month of purchases.
“Japanese investors are simply increasing the selling of German debt, which has seen the 10-year yield decline from 0.7 percent at the year’s start to around 0.3 percent in July,” said Yuji Yamazaki, interest rate strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.
“The recent trend within European bond investment is a shift away from Germany and towards other countries that offer slightly better returns, notably France and the Netherlands. “
The 10-year French government bond yield rose to as high as 0.76 percent in July and its Dutch counterpart climbed to a peak of 0.55 percent.
The finance ministry data showed that Japanese investors purchased a net 82.1 billion yen of Dutch bonds in July.
Japanese investors bought a net 703.8 billion yen of U.S. debt in July, turning buyers for the first time in three months.
But they remained sellers for the year, having offloaded more than 6 trillion yen of U.S. bonds so far in 2018 amid expectations of steady monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve. ($1 = 110.9100 yen) (Reporting by the Tokyo markets team Editing by Eric Meijer)