FRANKFURT, Feb 3 (Reuters) - The size of the European Central Bank’s dormant government bond purchase programme decreased to 175.5 billion euros ($237 billion) last week as 1.695 billion worth of bonds matured, the central bank said on Monday.
The ECB terminated its Securities Markets Programme (SMP) in September 2012 to replace it with a new but yet-to-be-used plan dubbed Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT).
But because the ECB has said it will keep the bonds it acquired under the SMP programme until maturity, it will be years before the programme ceases to exist.
The ECB revealed the contents of its SMP portfolio for the first time in February last year, showing it had 99 billion euros of Italian bonds, 44 billion of Spanish, 31 billion of Greek, 22 billion of Portuguese and 14 billion euros of Irish government debt at the end of 2012.
The ECB will seek to take an amount equivalent to the current SMP holdings as weekly deposits from banks on Tuesday to counterbalance the buys and neutralise any threat of them fuelling inflation.
However, lately it has failed to offset purchases fully. Last week, banks offered up 152 billion euros to the ECB in one-week deposits, falling short of the intended amount of 177.5 billion. ($1 = 0.7415 euros) (Reporting by Frankfurt newsroom)