MILAN Jan 9 Italian banks returned 11.2 billion euros in longer-term funds borrowed from the European Central Bank in December, but increased their overall reliance on funding provided by the ECB by borrowing more at its main refinancing operations.
Overall ECB funding to Italian banks last month stood at 235.9 billion euros ($320.8 billion), up from 227.7 billion euros in November.
Italian lenders had 22.2 billion euros in funds borrowed at the ECB's main refinancing tenders, sharply up from 2.8 billion euros a month earlier.
The outstanding amount of longer-term ECB loans fell instead to 213.7 billion euros in December from 224.9 billion euros.
($1 = 0.7353 euros) (Reporting by Valentina Za; editing by Francesca Landini)