Strongest sale of government debt by Greek banks since 2001 in May -ECB

FRANKFURT, June 30 Mon Jun 30, 2014 4:28am EDT

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FRANKFURT, June 30 (Reuters) - Greek banks showed the strongest monthly decline in government debt holdings in 13 years in May, data from the European Central Bank showed on Monday.

Greek banks sold 4.840 billion euros ($6.60 billion) in government debt in May after selling 256 million euros in April, marking the largest decline since August 2001.

Italian banks sold 5.122 billion euro in government debt in May after a 9.463 billion euro increase in April.

At a market value of 425.803 billion euros, Italian banks' holdings of government bonds remain the largest in the euro zone.

Bucking the trend, French banks bought 12.520 billion euros worth of government debt in May, after selling 1.930 billion in April, the largest monthly increase since January.

Spanish banks also increased their sovereign debt holdings, buying 6.305 billion euros in May after purchasing government bonds worth 170 million euros in April.

($1 = 0.7331 Euros) (Reporting by Eva Taylor and Kirsti Knolle)

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