By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com – Italian bonds and stocks surged in late trading in Europe on Wednesday after a report suggesting that eurozone governments were preparing an assistance program for Italy allowing the European Central Bank to intervene more actively to support local markets.
Bloomberg reported that eurozone leaders were looking at the possibility of agreeing a credit facility for Italy and others with the European Stability Mechanism, a bailout fund with some 410 billion euros of available firepower. In contrast the last round of eurozone bailouts, the necessary conditionality of such a loan would be eased, with the intention of removing the stigma of a bailout.
Being in an ESM program is a necessary precondition for the ECB to use its still-untested powers to intervene without limits in the bond markets of eurozone countries, under its so-called Outright Monetary Transactions mechanism. The mechanism was set up in response to the last Italian debt crisis but never used.
The yield spread on Italian debt versus its German equivalent narrowed sharply in response to the report, tightening from an intraday high of 322 basis points to 248 basis points as of 11:35 AM ET (1535 GMT).
The Italian meanwhile recovered to be unchanged on a day when all other European bourses fell sharply.
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