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ECB cuts Italian, Spanish debt purchases as markets hold nerve

FILE PHOTO: The European Central Bank (ECB) logo is pictured before a news conference on the outcome of the meeting of the Governing Council in Frankfurt, Germany, January 23, 2020. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The European Central Bank bought less Italian and Spanish government debt in the past two months as market pressure on both indebted countries stayed low despite a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, data showed on Monday.

The ECB bought 26.8 billion euros of Italian public-sector bonds and 18.7 billion euros of Spanish government debt through its stimulus programmes in August and September, the data showed.

That was slightly more than their quotas, but the deviation from was smaller than during the spring, when a surge in borrowing costs had forced the ECB to the rescue of the two struggling countries.

Italy was the euro zone country where the first wave of the pandemic took the heaviest toll. It was later overtaken by Spain, which currently counts 32,086 coronavirus fatalities and 789,932 confirmed cases - the worst in Western Europe.

In total, the ECB bought 126.8 billion euros worth of state debt under its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme in the past two months, plus 38.3 billion euros under its regular Public Sector Purchase Programme.

Reporting By Francesco Canepa, editing by Larry King

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