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EU and Germany Urgently Explore Ways to Rescue Spain

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Angela Merkel EPP Congress Bonn 2009

Germany and European Union officials are urgently exploring ways to rescue Spain's debt-stricken banks although Madrid has not yet requested assistance and is resisting being placed under international supervision, European sources said on Wednesday.

Spain, the euro zone's fourth biggest economy, said on Tuesday it was effectively losing access to credit markets due to prohibitive borrowing costs and appealed to European partners to help revive its banks.

The European Central Bank dashed investors' hopes of an easing of monetary policy or another flood of cheap liquidity for banks despite saying that the euro zone money market has again become "dysfunctional". The ECB left interest rates on hold at 1 percent at its monthly meeting.

The move raised pressure on EU political leaders to outline a solution to the bloc's festering debt crisis at a summit later this month.

Spanish Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said after talks at the European Commission on Wednesday there were no immediate plans to apply for a bailout. Spain would await the results of an IMF report and an independent audit of the banking sector, both due this month, before taking decisions on how to recapitalize the banks, he said.

ECB President Mario Draghi said financial markets were not wrong to be worried about the future of the euro zone but they underestimated the political commitment backing the single currency. He welcomed EU leaders' agreement to step up work on a long-term vision for a full economic and monetary union.

"Some of the problems in the euro area have nothing to do with monetary policy," he told a news conference. "I don't think it is right for monetary policy to fill other institutions' lack of action."

Acknowledging that the rate-setting governing council's decision was not unanimous, he said "a few members, I would say not many" had wanted a rate cut on Wednesday.

Asked whether the central bank would take supportive action if the EU summit agreed to move towards a fiscal and banking union, he said there was no such "horse-trading" but the ECB would monitor developments and stood ready to act.

Read more at Reuters...

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