ECB ramps up its pandemic bond buying to €1.35 tn

The European Central Bank (ECB) announced Thursday that it will increase its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) by €600 billion ($672 billion), as it attempts to bolster the region’s economy following the coronavirus crisis.

The amount comes on top of 750 billion euros of government bond purchases that the ECB announced in March, taking to total to 1.35 trillion euros. The central bank also said Thursday that the duration of its crisis bond-buying program would be expended from the end of 2020 until June 2021.

The emergency program has helped keep borrowing costs lower for countries in the euro zone — the 19-member region which uses the euro as its common currency. The ECB has also taken measures to boost bank lending.

The latest decision comes after data revealed the severity of the impact of the coronavirus crisis in Europe. The unemployment rate in the euro zone rose to 7.3% in April, from 7.1% in March, as lockdown restrictions hit jobs.

Business activity in the region has recovered slightly after plunging to record lows earlier this year. Manufacturing and services activity hit a three-month high in May, after some economies began to reopen. However, there are still concerns around the overall economic performance in the second quarter of 2020.