Bloomberg News

ECB Says It Stepped Up Government Bond Purchases Last Week

October 24, 2011

Oct. 24 (Bloomberg) -- The European Central Bank said it spent more on government bonds last week.

The Frankfurt-based ECB said today it settled 4.5 billion euros ($6.2 billion) of bond purchases in the week through Oct. 21, up from 2.2 billion euros in the previous week. The central bank will take seven-day term deposits from banks tomorrow to absorb the 169.5 billion euros of liquidity created since its bond program started on May 10, 2010, a practice it employs to ensure the purchases don’t fuel inflation.

ECB council member Christian Noyer said today that the central bank has pushed its mandate to the limit by intervening in bond markets, though it will continue to meet its responsibilities. ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said on Oct. 6 the central bank will spend 40 billion euros on covered bonds starting next month and will offer banks two additional unlimited loans of 12 and 13-month durations to help fight the region’s debt crisis.

The ECB was forced to start buying Italian and Spanish government bonds in August after Europe’s debt crisis pushed the nations’ yields to euro-era records. Policy makers are split over the best way to fight the turmoil. Juergen Stark on Sept. 9 announced he will resign from the ECB’s Executive Board in protest at the purchases and council member Jens Weidmann said last month the bank should reduce the risks on its balance sheet rather than increase them.

Euro-area governments have approved an expansion of the region’s 440 billion-euro rescue fund, including giving it the ability to buy bonds on the secondary market. Once that is up and running, the ECB has said it may be able to scale back its bond program.

--Editors: Simone Meier, Matthew Brockett

To contact the reporter on this story: Gabi Thesing in London at gthesing@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net


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