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Spain banks' borrowing hits new ECB high

Sep 14 2012 12:06 AFP

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Madrid - Spanish banks' net borrowing from the European Central Bank (ECB) hit a record high in August as the country faced ever-tighter financing conditions, central bank figures showed Friday.

The level of net borrowing climbed to €388.7bn last month from €375.5bn in July, according to the figures released by the Bank of Spain.

Spanish banks' reliance on the eurozone's central bank for loans has risen steadily over the past year as they struggle to raise money on financial markets due to private investor concerns over the country's finance sector, which is laden with bad loans from a building boom that went bust in 2008.

Borrowings from the ECB have therefore multiplied from a low point of €42.2bn in April 2011.

In two highly disputed operations in December and February, the ECB offered €1.1 trillion at ultra-low rates to banks, hoping to get credit flowing to businesses and households in the debt-wracked eurozone country.

But ECB data suggest the banks have instead been taking the money from the ECB and parking it in the ultra-safe institution's deposit facility, fearful of lending it to riskier borrowers such as other banks.

Last week the ECB announced it may buy the government bonds of a stricken member state on strict conditions.

Spain's eurozone partners agreed in June to extend a rescue loan of up to €100 to salvage its financial sector, but economists warn that the country may yet need a full sovereign bailout.

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