NEW YORK – The U.S. Treasury expects to borrow $444 billion in the first quarter of 2012, ending with a $30 billion cash balance, the department announced Monday.

Treasury had estimated it would borrow $541 billion this quarter and have a $60 billion cash balance at the end of the quarter, when it last made projections three months ago.

"More than half of the decrease is due to relative changes in the opening and end-of-quarter balances; the actual end-of-December balance was $26 billion higher, while the estimated end-of-March balance is $30 billion lower," Treasury said in a statement.

Treasury expects to borrow $200 billion next quarter and have a $90 billion cash balance at mid-year.

Last quarter Treasury borrowed $310 billion and ended the year with an $86 billion cash balance.

Treasury will release details of its quarterly refunding Wednesday morning.

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