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ECB closer to buying euro zone bonds

Thursday, August 02, 2012 - 02:37

Aug. 2 - The European Central Bank says it will gear up to buy Italian and Spanish bonds on the open market but will only act after euro zone governments have activated bailout funds to do the same. Ciara Sutton reports.

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A week after pledging to do "whatever it takes" to save the euro, many were predicting a "make or break" day for ECB chief Mario Draghi. Under intense pressure from investors and European leaders, the ECB President left the benchmark interest rate at record-low 0.75 percent. But he did say new measures will be announced in the coming weeks. (SOUNDBITE) (English) ECB PRESIDENT MARIO DRAGHI SAYING: "The Governing Council will consider further non-standard monetary policy measures according to what is required to repair monetary policy transmission. In the coming weeks we will design the appropriate modalities for such policy measures." The ECB says it is ready to intervene in sovereign bond markets to lower borrowing costs for some of the weaker economies. It will draw up a mechanism to make outright purchases to stabilise stressed euro zone borrowing costs. But Chris Scicluna from Daiwa Capital Markets says it isn't just up to Draghi to sort the crisis. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH, DAIWA CAPITAL MARKETS SAYING: "We think it's really not for the ECB to save the euro, but that it is for the politicians to save the euro, and those in Germany and other core countries to step up and advance towards debt mutualisation options which can allow countries in the periphery to raise money in the market and raise sufficient funds to avoid having to ultimately throw in the towel and leave the euro." European markets reversed previous gains after Draghi's news conference, with Italian bonds trading higher and Spanish yields up 7 basis points. And BGC market commentator, Mike Ingram was equally disappointed. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARKET COMMENTATOR FROM BGC, MIKE INGRAM SAYING: "One of the things I was quite keen to see, although I wasn't expecting it was the word unlimited, unlimited intervention, basically sending a very clear message to the markets that you are going to be there as a buyer of first resort, as the buyer of last resort, of these troubled government bonds in Italy's, Spain and so forth and that didn't come through. And when pressed on the matter, Draghi came back with the bizarre reply of 'we don't know'." But many believe he should know - he set himself up as an ECB President determined to save the euro zone. And some considered the meeting a test of his leadership. Investors will be watching these latest promises closely. Ciara Sutton, Reuters

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ECB closer to buying euro zone bonds

Thursday, August 02, 2012 - 02:37