ECB Keeps Greek Bank Aid Unchanged Before Sunday Deal Deadline

The European Central Bank maintained its emergency aid for Greek lenders, people familiar with the matter said, allowing politicians time for a last push to reach a deal on the country’s bailout.

The ECB’s Governing Council agreed in a telephone conference to keep the cap on Emergency Liquidity Assistance unchanged, the people said, asking not to be named as the call was private. An ECB spokeswoman declined to comment. The institution has kept the ceiling at 88.6 billion euros ($98.1 billion) since June 23, though on Monday it tightened the terms on the collateral banks must post.

The European Union has set a Sunday deadline to reach a deal with Greece on a rescue in exchange for austerity measures and economic reforms, while the country has requested a new three-year bailout. In the meantime, Greece’s banks are almost out of cash and its economy is grinding to a halt after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras imposed capital controls, leaving ELA as the only bulwark against a collapse of the country’s financial system.

The ECB plans to review Greek ELA again on Monday, the people said.

“We would expect the ECB to roll the ELA on current terms until Sunday,” Malcolm Barr, an economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in London, said in a note before Wednesday’s meeting. He estimated the probability of a Greek exit from the euro area as 55 percent.

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