By Francesco Canepa
FRANKFURT, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The European Central Bank bought more government bonds last week than it has in any week since May, just as the market was roiled by speculation about a possible reduction in purchases, ECB data showed on Monday.
The central bank does not comment on why it increases or decreases its purchases, but last week's surge in yields would have made buying bonds easier in countries like Germany, where short-term debt is often beyond the bank's reach because it yields less than the deposit rate.
The ECB bought 18.07 billion euros ($20.24 billion) worth of sovereign bonds last week, the most since late May, before the start of its corporate debt programme allowed the ECB to slow slightly its purchases of government bonds.
The weekly increase came just as government bonds sold off, after a Bloomberg report that the ECB might gradually wind down its 80-billion-euros bond-buying programme.
The ECB dismissed that report and reiterated its intention to press on with the scheme until forecasts for inflation, a key gauge of economic growth, rise back to its target of almost 2 percent.
Euro zone inflation is currently 0.4 percent and is not expected to rise back to the ECB's target for the next two years at the earliest.
Sovereign bonds typically account for nearly 90 percent of the ECB's monthly purchases.
$1 = 0.8928 euros Reporting By Francesco Canepa, editing by Larry King