ECB Pandemic Purchases Stay Muted Amid Drag of Maturing Debt

ECB Pandemic Purchases Stay Muted Amid Drag of Maturing Debt

The European Central Bank kept up a muted pace of pandemic bond-buying for a second week as maturing debt acted as a brake on officials’ stimulus efforts.

The institution settled 11.9 billion euros ($14.2 billion) of net buying under its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program last week, similar to the 12 billion-euro outcome of the prior week. That’s well below the average purchase pace of 18 billion euros since the tool’s inception.

More than 30 billion euros in government bonds matured in the region last week, some of which the ECB would have owned, acting as a weight on the overall total. That was confirmed by a statement from the institution provided by a spokeswoman.

“Weekly net purchase data are affected by seasonality factors and in particular redemptions,” the ECB said. “Recently there have been large redemptions which lower the net purchases and temporarily delay the increase in our stock of bonds.”

A global bond sell-off has sparked varying levels of concern among euro-area officials, aware that sovereign yields are used by banks as a reference point for lending. The region’s recovery is already expected to be slower than that of many other advanced economies amid stubbornly high rates of infections and slow vaccine roll-outs that forced longer and in some places even harder lockdowns.

German 10-year yields stayed one basis point higher at minus 0.29% after the release of the ECB data.

The ECB’s Governing Council is due to meet this week to assess the latest outlook for the economy, and whether its current policy settings are appropriate. A majority of economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect the ECB to step up the pace of its stimulus deployment to address the situation in bond markets.

The bond-purchase figures don’t reflect orders made Thursday and Friday, as transactions take a couple of days to settle and show up in the ECB’s accounts. Gross purchase data due on Tuesday will also reveal the impact of any asset redemptions.

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