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Fed buys US$305m of ETFs at start of historic programme

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The Federal Reserve bought US$305 million of exchange-traded funds (ETF) on the first day of its historic intervention into US corporate debt markets, according to data published Thursday.

[NEW YORK] The Federal Reserve bought US$305 million of exchange-traded funds (ETF) on the first day of its historic intervention into US corporate debt markets, according to data published Thursday.

The figures were revealed in the central bank's weekly balance sheet update, which also showed that total assets rose to a new record of US$6.93 trillion in the week through May 13. The ETF purchases are part of the latest emergency lending programme the Fed has rolled out to help cushion the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the US economy and financial markets.

First announced on March 23, the so-called Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility has been credited by investors and policy makers alike with having a major calming influence on markets, even well before it officially launched on Tuesday. Under the programme, the Fed plans to make both outright purchases of corporate bonds as well as ETFs invested in the asset class, including potentially some sub-investment grade debt.

While the weekly balance sheet data did not disclose which ETFs the Fed bought, the central bank has said it will disclose the names of borrowers participating in the programme at least once a month.

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