Spain has no immediate need to ask for outside aid to help deal with its debts, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted Monday.
Spain, which is in recession for the second time in three years and is being weighed down by an unemployment rate of 25 percent, has been under pressure to tap a bond-buying program of the European Central Bank since it was announced in early September.
The plan was largely designed to keep a lid on Spain's borrowing costs. Even without a request, Spain has won some respite in the markets on the anticipation that the country would soon make one.
"It's not essential at this moment," Rajoy said at a press conference with Italian counterpart Mario Monti. "I will do it when I think it is in Spain's best interests."
The interest rate for Spain's benchmark 10-year bond has eased from 7 percent highs to an average of 5.5 percent in recent weeks following the ECB's announcement. On Monday, it was up a little bit at 5.65 percent.
Since the plan was announced, Spain has been demanding to know the conditions the ECB would set if it were to formally apply for help. The government recently introduced more austerity measures and a raft of economic reforms. Many analysts think the package was designed to fend off any demands that may emerge in the event of a request for ECB help.
Though Italy's debt mountain is bigger than Spain's and the country is also in recession, Monti's government has not felt the same sort of pressure in financial markets. While Spain's overall debt is lower, it is increasing at a faster rate.
Both agreed that the ECB offer has been a positive development and reiterated their support for greater monetary and banking unity among the 17 countries that use the euro. They also reiterated their support for Greece to remain in the eurozone.
The Italian premier was in Madrid as part of a summit which has brought together ministers and business representatives from both countries. It is the fourth time they have held bilateral meetings since they took office late last year.
As the eurozone's third and fourth largest economies, Italy and Spain are considered by many to be too expensive to rescue should they lose access to bond markets.
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