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Italy defensive as key ECB meeting looms

Wednesday, August 01, 2012 - 02:28

Aug. 1 - The Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, is visiting Finland as part of a short European tour to convince his partners austerity in southern Europe is good, while markets wait for ECB policy moves at a key meeting on Thursday. Joanne Nicholson reports.

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Fresh from talks in Paris, the Italian Prime Minister's next stop was Helsinki for a meeting with his Finnish counterpart. Finland's strong economy is being buffeted by the weaker European ones. And Mario Monti wants to convince the Finns Italy is making progress in its economic reforms. He says Italy doesn't need help from its European partners but may need a break from its high interest rates to ease pressure on its spiralling borrowing costs. (SOUNDBITE)(English) ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER MARIO MONTI SAYING: "What needs help is the functioning of the markets for government bonds in the euro zone." Earlier in his whistlestop tour of Europe, Monti said he saw light at the end of the tunnel for the euro zone crisis. A European Central Bank policy meeting takes place on Thursday - the first since Bank President Mario Draghi said he would do whatever it takes to preserve the euro - many think the ECB is the key to ending the chaos. The meeting is being hyped up by many market watchers although not everyone is convinced it will be a game changer. Peter Westaway, is Chief European Economist at Vanguard. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PETER WESTAWAY, CHIEF EUROPEAN ECONOMIST, VANGUARD, SAYING: "I think we're probably going to hear something about more asset purchases and I think that will probably come alongside a request from Spain for access to the EFSF. Only when that happens will the ECB indulge in more asset purchases, and I think we need to have a convincing statement from the ECB that they're going to do that without limit." Germany objects to the bank buying government debt, to help lower Spanish and Italian borrowing costs. But many think it's what's needed to keep ailing economies afloat. Jose Carlos Diez is a Spanish economist. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CHIEF ECONOMIST AT INTERMONEY S.A, JOSE CARLOS DIEZ, SAYING: "I think that if there is disappointment this time it will be chaos this summer, we will see a lot of tensions on the markets and a situation of high risk for the whole of the euro zone." Germany's Central Bank also thinks a bond buying programme would contravene a European law that bans monetary financing of governments. European shares and the euro held their ground on Wednesday - the German DAX hardly moved at the beginning of trading - and investors snapped up safe-haven German 5 year bonds Joanne Nicholson, Reuters

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Italy defensive as key ECB meeting looms

Wednesday, August 01, 2012 - 02:28