The European Central Bank stepped up buying of covered bonds in an attempt to boost consumer prices and rekindle growth in the euro-area economy. The outstanding amount of covered bonds purchased under the Frankfurt-based institution's program rose by 3.075 billion euros ($3.85 billion) last week to 4.779 billion euros, data on the ECB's website showed.

The purchase plan, which is set to broaden before the end of the month to include asset-backed securities, is part of ECB President Mario Draghi's extensive stimulus package that also includes targeted bank loans and record-low interest rates. With inflation well below the ECB's goal and the economy struggling to expand, Draghi has pledged to add as much as 1 trillion euros to the institution's balance sheet.

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