ECB kicks off its asset-back securities purchase programme

 
Emma Haslett
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The move came as the ECB tries to stave off deflation in the region (Source: Getty)

The European Central Bank (ECB) has kicked off its programme to buy asset-backed securities in an effort to stimulate the region's flagging economy.

ECB chief Mario Draghi confirmed in September that the bank would start buying asset-backed securities in a programme slated to last "at least" two years.

Because of the ECB's collateral rules, the only junk bonds it will be permitted to buy will be those from Greece and Cyprus.

Through its ABS programme and another scheme, lauched last month, to buy covered bonds, the bank plans to increase its balance sheet by about €1 trillion (£792m).

The plan is not quite full-blown quantitative easing - to do that, it would have to buy up sovereign debt - but it is an attempt to hold off the threat of deflation. Inflation in the region dropped to 0.4 per cent in October, while its purchasing managers' index, which measures output, fell to 51.4 in November, only marginally above the 50 mark which denotes a contraction.

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