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Draghi: ECB Studying Possible Changes to Asset-Buying Program

Economic Indicators Reuters

The European Central Bank is studying how it might potentially change its asset-buying programme, President Mario Draghi said on Thursday.

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Earlier, the bank held interest rates on hold and made no changes to its 80 billion euro a month asset-buying programme.

The ECB, however, is widely expected to extend the programme beyond next March, when it is due to end, and also likely to have to tweak the terms of the scheme to avoid running out of assets to buy.

Draghi said the ECB's policymakers had decided to ask various groups in the bank to study possible changes.

"The Governing Council tasked the relevant committees to evaluate the options that ensure a smooth implementation of our purchase programme," he told a news conference.

Draghi did not say what would be studied but there has been past speculation about such things as raising the limit on how much of each bond issue the ECB can own, buying bonds yielding less than the bank's -0.4 percent deposit rate or extending the range of eligible bonds.

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Bigger changes could involve the purchase of new types of assets, like bank bonds, non performing loans or, in the extreme case, stocks.

(Reporting By Francesco Canepa Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)