Tuesday 20 March 2018

Spain keeps markets guessing

Julien Toyer and James Mackenzie

SPANISH Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy kept financial markets guessing yesterday over whether he will seek a credit line from the eurozone's rescue fund, but said he would do so "when I think it is in the interests of Spain".

At a joint news conference after talks in Madrid, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti said it was vital that the European Central Bank's bond-buying programme to support troubled states be activated, a strong hint that Spain should take the plunge, since he also said Italy did not need a bailout.

"It is of paramount importance that the instrument is put to work, that it does not remain theoretical," Monti said.

Mr Monti said earlier this month that if Spain were to request a credit line from the eurozone's rescue fund, triggering ECB intervention, it would calm financial markets.

While Mr Rajoy maintained his ambiguity, he omitted previous demands to know more details of the ECB's bond-buying plan before making up his mind. "The instrument is there and any country can ask for it if it finds it necessary. And I will do just that.

"When I believe that it is in the interests of Spain to ask for it, I will ask for it. Until I reach this conclusion, I won't do it," Mr Rajoy said.

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's weekend threat to withdraw support from Monti's government and regional elections in Sicily, in which a protest party led by a stand-up comic polled strongly, have highlighted the extent of political risk in Italy. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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