ECB Spent 64 Billion Euros on QE Last Month as Stimulus Reviewed

  • Buying exceeded 60-billion euro mark for second straight month
  • Holdings of asset-backed securities shrank last week

The European Central Bank accelerated the pace of its bond-buying program in October, as policy makers considered whether to step up stimulus before the end of the year.

Holdings of public and private-sector debt under quantitative easing rose by 63.7 billion euros ($70.3 billion), data on the ECB’s website showed on Monday. Weekly figures showed covered-bond purchases increasing at the fastest rate in seven weeks.

ECB President Mario Draghi said on Oct. 22 that staff have been ordered to craft proposals to add to already unprecedented monetary stimulus, with action possible at the next monetary-policy meeting on Dec. 3. Eight months into the 1.1 trillion-euro asset-purchase program, consumer prices are stagnant and the economic recovery remains vulnerable to a stronger euro and weaker global trade.

The pace of buying in October compares with 63 billion euros in September, when the ECB increased purchases to compensate for a slowdown over the European summer holiday period. The central bank has said it’ll also lift purchases before the December holidays.

The ECB currently intends to buy 60 billion euros a month of debt until September 2016, or until it’s confident that medium-term inflation is back in line with its goal of just under 2 percent.

Holdings of sovereign and agency debt climbed by 52.2 billion euros last month, the data showed. Holdings of covered bonds rose by 10 billion euros, and of ABS by 1.6 billion euros.

Weekly data showed public-sector debt purchases slowed to 10.6 billion euros in the period ended Oct. 30, down from 12.2 billion euros the previous week. Purchases of covered bonds were 3 billion euros. Holdings of asset-backed securities shrank by 88 million euros.

In an effort to make quantitative easing more transparent, the central banks of France, the Netherlands and Lithuania started trials of reverse auctions last month -- a strategy similar to that used by the U.S. Federal Reserve during its own program.

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