ECB meets bond buying target of 60-B euros

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FRANKFURT: The European Central Bank (ECB) said on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) it had met its monthly target of buying 60-billion euros ($65-billion) worth of bonds in March, the first month of its massive program to stimulate the eurozone economy and ward off deflation.

The nearly 61 billion euros in government and corporate debt purchased was a successful kickoff of the program to inject more than 1.1 trillion euros into the eurozone economy as some analysts had voiced doubts on whether the ECB would be able to buy enough assets or that it would be effective.

“With the first month of its expanded asset purchase program complete, the ECB can look back at a success,” said Berenberg bank economist Christian Schulz.

“The operational implementation has been smooth and the policy effectiveness probably exceeded the ECB’s own expectations,” he added, noting borrowing costs have dropped and spreads between what eurozone core and periphery nations pay to borrow had narrowed.


He also noted that the euro’s nominal effective exchange rate is trading 11 percent below its average in 2013 and 2014, and economic confidence indicators have rebounded.

The ECB launched its bond buying program on March 9, joining the central banks of Britain, Japan and the United States in using so-called quantitative easing (QE) to boost their economies.

As of March 31 the ECB had bought 47.36 billion euros in sovereign debt, 12.4 billion in covered bonds and 1.2 billion in asset-backed securities, a spokesman told Agence France-Presse.

Schulz said “this strong implementation, especially given that the ECB only started the sovereign purchases on 9 March, should dispel fears that the ECB will not find enough sellers for its purchases.”

Given many pension and investment funds have to hold certain percentages of sovereign bonds, some analysts were concerned that the ECB would not be able to purchase sufficient amounts.

The ECB hopes that the QE program will boost growth as well as return inflation to positive territory and toward the central bank’s target of around 2 percent.

AFP

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