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The asset total held abroad by the general Israeli public was $71 billion at the end of March, according to the Bank of Israel.

The asset total held abroad increased by $1.9 billion during the first quarter of 2002. Half that sum was exported by the private sector.

More than a third of the total sum is attributed to the Bank of Israel's foreign currency reserves, the central bank said. The rest consists of deposits by individuals and Israeli banks outside Israel.

Mutuals and insurance companies bought $1.1 billion net worth of foreign bonds during the first quarter roughly the same amount they invested during the whole of 2001, said the central bank.

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Israel's foreign debt totaled $102 billion, down $3.8 billion from its total debt at the end of 2001.