Euro zone banks buy govt bonds in Feb -ECB data

FRANKFURT, March 27 Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:28am EDT

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FRANKFURT, March 27 (Reuters) - Euro zone banks mainly increased their holdings of sovereign debt in February after banks passed the year-end deadline for balance sheet data under the European Central Bank's asset review, ECB data showed on Thursday.

Italian banks bought sovereign debt and recorded a 6.5 billion euro ($8.96 billion) rise after a 6.9 billion decrease in January. At a market value of 415.6 billion, Italian banks' holdings of government bonds remain the largest in the euro zone.

Greece also saw an increase, with banks buying 439 million euros of sovereign debt. Adjusted for market value, Greek banks' sovereign debt holdings rose to 13.8 billion euros.

Spanish banks, on the other hand, sold 2.3 billion euros worth of government bonds in February, after bying 20.4 billion worth of them in January.

Portuguese banks also decreased their government debt holdings by 3.2 billion euros, with the market value falling to 37.2 billion. ($1 = 0.7254 Euros) (Reporting by Eva Taylor and Jonathan Gould)

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