September 3, 2018 / 3:26 PM / 16 days ago

UPDATE 2-ECB's stimulus purchases dwindle to all-time low in August

    * ECB is winding down its bond-buying programme
    * In August it bought just 24.8 bln euros worth of debt
    * Volumes slipped as many sellers on holiday

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    FRANKFURT, Sept 3 (Reuters) - The European Central Bank's
debt purchases in August under its stimulus programme were the
lowest since the scheme began amid light summer volumes on
financial markets, data showed on Monday.      
    The ECB is winding down its bond-buying programme and plans
to stop it in December after nearly four years, provided that
inflation in the euro zone does not take a turn for the worse.
    The central bank bought just 24.8 billion euros' ($29
billion) worth of debt in August, when many sellers in Europe
are away on holiday. It was the smallest amount since the
programme started in March 2015.
    Private sector debt, which includes corporate and covered
bonds as well as loan bundles known as asset-backed securities,
accounted for 9 percent of the total, compared to between 16 and
30 percent in the previous seven months.
    Specifically, ECB purchases of corporate debt totalled just
1.5 billion euros, a record low, and its holdings of
asset-backed securities shrank by half a billion euros.
    Among bonds issued by the public sector, the ECB bought 6
percent more Spanish debt and 1 percent more German debt than
implied by the size of the two respective economies, according
to Reuters calculations that exclude Greece. By the same
measure, France and Italy were slightly underbought.
    Greece has never been part of the programme due to its low
credit rating. 
    
In a sharp reduction from the previous six months, the average
maturity of the government bonds bought by the ECB was 9.7
years, according to Reuters calculations.
 
 ($1 = 0.8613 euros)

    
 (Reporting By Francesco Canepa and Balazs Koranyi
Editing by Susan Fenton)
  
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