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Eurozone Bank Quashes Intervention Rumours

(c) Sky News 2012

Markets slipped after the European Central Bank (ECB) distanced itself from reports that it was preparing to step in and help troubled eurozone members.

There was speculation that the ECB was planning to intervene if a country's borrowing costs got too high.

A German magazine reported that the Bank was considering setting interest rate thresholds for bond purchases - meaning it would buy debt issued by vulnerable countries if their interest rates exceeded a premium over Germany's Bunds.

But an ECB spokesman later said it was misleading to report on views which have not yet been discussed by the ECB's Governing Council - prompting Spanish bond yields to gradually come off the day's lows.

There was also limited reaction on the markets to a statement by Germany's Bundesbank reiterating opposition to the ECB buying the bonds of countries like Spain and Italy.

Hopes of the mass-buying of Spanish debt has already halved Spanish two-year yields since ECB president Mario Draghi said that the bank would do whatever it takes to preserve the euro last month.

However, policymakers remain in the early stages of thrashing out the details of any aid, with a series of critical meetings scheduled in the next few weeks.

The ECB holds its regular policy-setting meeting on September 6, followed by a meeting of euro zone finance ministers on September 15 - both of which are expected to shed some light on plans to help Spain tackle its costly debt burden.

Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras will meet with Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande later this week , as part of his effort to re-establish his country's battered credibility.

Samaras is expected to informally float a long-standing proposal that the measures be spread over four instead of two years to soften their impact on a Greek populace enduring record unemployment and the country's worst downturn since World War Two.