ECB's Draghi says bond buy program still in place

BARCELONA, Spain Thu May 3, 2012 9:24am EDT

BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) - The European Central Bank's bond purchase program remains in place but it is up to governments to bring their own financing costs under control by implementing structural reforms, ECB President Mario Draghi said on Thursday.

"The instrument is still there," Draghi told a news conference after the central bank held interest rates at a record-low of 1.0 percent. He said the bond buying program was "neither infinite nor eternal".

Earlier in the news conference, Draghi had said that national governments needed to address "major imbalances" themselves, while the ECB's main objective was to focus on maintaining price stability.

There is a growing expectation in financial markets that the ECB will have to ride to the euro zone's rescue with Spain under intense pressure and the Dutch government in disarray.

A Reuters poll taken last week showed three-quarters of economists saw the ECB restarting its bond purchases within the next three months.

However, most money market traders said in a separate poll the bank would not buy more bonds.

(Reporting by Eva Kuehnen and Sakari Suoninen; Editing by Noah Barkin and Jeremy Gaunt.)

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