FRANKFURT Jan 6 The balance of the European Central Bank's dormant government bond purchase programme rose by 0.5 billion euros to 179.0 billion euros ($243.68 billion) last week after a quarterly amortisation exercise, the central bank said on Monday.
The ECB said no bonds matured last week.
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 that 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 last year.
The ECB will 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.
It has failed to withdraw the full amount the past three times. ($1 = 0.7346 euros) (Reporting by Frankfurt newsroom)