ECB Launches 3-Year Loans To Banks

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) - The European Central Bank is making unprecedented three-year loans to the continent's banks in an effort to bolster Europe's stressed financial system.

The bank was to announce results of the lending operation, which it announced on Dec. 8, later today. Economists expect banks to seek $391 billion or more in total.

The ECB previously had given unlimited credit over periods of about a year at most. Extending the term is meant to reassure markets that banks will have long-term financing amid tensions triggered by the eurozone debt crisis.

The ECB has served as lender of last resort for banks when they cannot borrow elsewhere, but appears determined to limit its support for troubled governments through purchases of their bonds.