The European Central Bank (ECB) provided the euro-area banks today with 3-year loans, in attempts to provide liquidity to the market and prevent a credit crunch and an interbank lending freeze from hurting the financial sector.

The Bank offered euro-area banks 489 billion euros of 3-year loans, more than median estimate of 293 billion euros -Bloomberg News survey.

The Bank also explained after the auction that 523 banks applied to obtain funds, where cheap funds attracted more than expected banks to apply for loans, especially when the loans will be lend at the average of the Bank's benchmark of 1.0% over the 3-year.

The ECB aims to strengthen the financial position of the banks and empower the financial sector as a whole. The bank will provide 3-year loans again in February.