The European Central Bank has approved a 68 billion euro ($77 billion) two-week extension on emergency liquidity for Greek banks, Dow Jones reported Wednesday, citing sources. The news comes as time is running out on Greece's current bailout program, which expires on Feb. 28.
The ECB previously announced it would provide Greek banks with emergency liquidity of as much as 60 billion euros, meaning Greece may not be forced to get a formal extension from the troika -- the European Commission, ECB and International Monetary Fund -- when the current deadline expires. The option isn’t permanent, but it could be a good one for Greece if the country doesn’t reach a formal extension or renegotiation pact this month, said John De Clue, chief investment officer at the private client reserve at U.S. Bank Wealth Management.
The euro plummeted to a seven-year low against the British pound Wednesday as global fears escalated after Greece and eurozone finance ministers failed to reach an agreement regarding the country’s debt program Monday. Failure to reach an agreement would risk national bankruptcy and result in a possible exit from the eurozone for Greece.
The Greek government said it will request a loan extension of up to six months from its creditors on Thursday morning. However, Germany, the largest economy in Europe, said there would not be a deal unless Greece sticks to the terms of its current $270 billion bailout program.
Separately, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said Wednesday that he expects eurozone finance ministers to approve a Greek proposal to extend the country's loan agreement Friday, Reuters reported.
Greece had said Tuesday that its parliament would vote on abandoning austerity measures Friday, the same day eurozone finance ministers have set as a deadline for Greece to seek an extension to its bailout program.