FRANKFURT, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Banks will pay back 3.79 billion euros ($5.06 billion) next week of 3-year loans they took from the European Central Bank just over a year ago, bringing the total payback of the first 489 billion in loans to 149 billion.
The latest repayments by 9 banks, announced by the ECB on Friday, were in line with the forecast of 4 billion euros from a Reuters poll of traders.
The early return of some of the 3-year funds the ECB pumped into the system in late 2011 and early 2012 to avert a credit crunch marks the beginning of an unwinding of the ECB's crisis measures - the opposite of action being taken by other central banks.
The early paybacks are voluntary and do not thus represent intentional policy tightening by the ECB.
Banks took more than 1 trillion euros in total in the two offerings of 3-year loans in December 2011 and February 2012. They were offered the chance to repay funds early on a weekly basis from Jan. 30 for the first tranche of 489 billion.
On Feb. 27, they will have the first opportunity for an early repayment of the second one of 530 billion euros. Banks are expected to pay 125 billion of those loans then, a Reuters poll of money market traders showed.
($1 = 0.7495 euros)
(Writing by Paul Carrel) Keywords: ECB/BANKS CASH
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