Public bond purchases fall to 164 million euros: ECB

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The European Central Bank said Monday that its government bond purchases dropped to just 164 million euros (218 billion dollars) last week, the lowest amount since late October.

Total accumulated purchases of public debt from the commercial banks under the controversial Securities Markets Programme that began in May amount to 73.5 billion euros, an ECB statement added.

On December 27, the bank reported weekly purchases of 1.12 billion euros, which analysts said was partly the result of banks looking to dress up their books before closing them out at the end of the year.

The ECB has assumed greater risk through its purchases of bonds issued by countries like Greece, Ireland and Portugal as part of an overall European Union-International Monetary Fund plan to stabilise financial markets.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet has pressed eurozone governments to get their finances in order and the bank announced on December 16 the biggest capital increase in its 12-year history to protect against potential losses.

© 2011 AFP

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