Lagging US, Europe speeds up help for virus-hit economy



David McHugh | AP

Frankfurt, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank said it would step up its bond-purchase stimulus to support an economy whose recovery is expected to lag a year behind the rebound in the U.S., held back by slow vaccine rollouts and less relief spending by governments.

The central bank for the 19 countries that use the euro said Thursday that over the next quarter the purchases would be conducted “at a significantly higher pace than during the first months of the year.”

The move is aimed at preventing a premature rise in borrowing costs while businesses are still struggling with coronavirus restrictions like curfews and shutdowns. Yields on long-term government bonds have risen by about 0.3% since the start of the year in the eurozone. That is not much, and rates remain low. But economists say it is too early for the eurozone to withstand higher rates, usually associated with recovering growth and inflation.

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