FRANKFURT, Germany ? The European Central Bank held its bond purchases to a bare euro19 million ($24.8 million) this week.
The scant amount indicates that the bank has for now almost ceased the controversial program which has helped keep borrowing costs down for Italy and Spain.
It bought a minimal euro3.36 million last week. That makes two weeks of near-negligible purchases, following euro635 million the week ending Dec. 9 and euro3.66 billion the week ending Dec. 2.
The program has helped keep Italy and Spain from financial disaster from high borrowing costs. But the ECB says it is of limited amount and duration and that it is up to governments to cut their deficits and not wait for a central bank bailout.