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Banks

Italy enjoys oversized ECB support as debt balloons

FILE PHOTO: European Union and Italian flags are seen in downtown Rome, Italy, October 19, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Italy enjoyed oversized purchases of its government debt by the European Central Bank in June and July, standing out as the main beneficiary of ECB efforts to support the virus-stricken euro zone economy, data showed on Monday.

The ECB bought 36 billion euros worth of Italian sovereign bonds under its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme, giving it a 19.6% share of the scheme against Italy’s 17% quota.

In addition, the central bank hoovered up a further 10.2 billion euros as part of its deflation-fighting Public Sector Purchase Programme, or nearly a quarter of all national debt bought under that scheme in the last two months.

That made Italy the one large euro zone country to be above its share of the capital key - a quota based on how much money each country has paid into ECB coffers - in both programmes.

While all euro zone governments have been pumping cash into their economies since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak, Italy went into this crisis with already high public debt and meagre economic growth.

Rome is planning on running a budget deficit of almost 12% of its national output this year, taking its government debt to an estimated 157.6% of GDP.

Reporting by Francesco Canepa; Editing by Mark Heinrich

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