The European Central Bank is ready to temporarily step up purchases of Italian government bonds if the result of a crucial referendum on Sunday sharply drives up borrowing costs for the euro zone’s largest debtor, central bank sources told Reuters.
Italian government debt and bank shares have sold off ahead of the Dec. 4 referendum on constitutional reforms because of the risk of political turmoil. Opinion polls suggest the ‘No’ camp is heading for victory, which could force out Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in the latest upheaval against the ruling establishment sweeping the developed world.
The ECB could use its 80-billion-euro ($84.8 billion) monthly bond-buying program to counter any immediate, further spike in bond yields after the vote, smoothing market moves and supporting bonds, according to four euro zone central bank sources who asked not to be named.
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