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ECB keeps government bond buys at a trickle

FRANKFURT, July 26 (Reuters) - The European Central Bank said on Monday it had bought 176 million euros worth of bonds in the week ending July 23, keeping its controversial securities markets programme just about ticking over.

The total of bonds purchased since the start of the programme on May 10 reached 60.5 billion euros, rounded to the nearest half billion.

The amount bought last week compares with 302 million euros in purchases settled the week before and around 800 million euros two weeks ago, and marks a gradual slowdown after spending 16.5 billion euros in the first week of the programme in May.

ECB policymakers have indicated that while they are not ready to officially declare the end of the bond-buying programme, they are happy to keep purchases low.

ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny told Reuters last week the programme is on hiatus for the time being, but he favoured retaining the programme on the back-burner in case bond market troubles flare up again. [ID:nLDE66J1B1] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

For a graphic on the ECB bond-buying, please click on: here ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

The ECB has said it would buy government and corporate bonds under the programme, but has given no further details, such as how much it could spend or how long it intends to bonds.

The ECB said it would accept one-week deposits from commercial banks on Tuesday, to neutralise the extra liquidity and inflationary impact of the buy-ups, adding that it would repeat the process next week.

The actual purchase amount could be higher than the reported total, given it takes 2-3 days for purchases to settle.

For full details click Reuters information page ECB35. (Reporting by Sakari Suoninen)