July 14, 2020 / 9:56 AM / a month ago

Spanish banks' ECB borrowing hits highest level since late 2013

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a Bank of Spain branch, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in the Andalusian capital of Seville, Spain, April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo/File Photo

MADRID (Reuters) - Spanish banks borrowed over 196 billion euros (£176.89 billion) from the European Central Bank in June, an 11.6% increase from May to the highest level since November 2013 amid the coronavirus pandemic, Bank of Spain data showed on Tuesday.

Such borrowing has been rising as banks resort to cheap ECB loans to help mitigate the impact from the health crisis.

Euro zone banks borrowed a record 1.31 trillion euros from the ECB in mid-June, taking advantage of negative interest rates to meet growing demand for credit from companies hit by the deepest recession in living memory.

Launched six years ago, the ECB’s targeted-longer term refinancing operations (TLTROs) were redesigned earlier this year to help the economy cope with the coronavirus crisis and banks will get the cash for a rate as low as minus 1%.

The negative interest rate means banks that tapped the auction will earn 0.50% for one year with no strings attached and 1% if they simply refrain from shrinking their loan book.

In August 2012, Spanish banks had taken an all-time high of 411 billion euros from the ECB, when the country’s financial turmoil reached a peak and weak lenders were granted a 41.3 billion euro aid package from the European Union that summer.

Reporting by Jesús Aguado; editing by Andrei Khalip

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