March 15, 2020 / 8:01 AM / 16 days ago

UPDATE 1-Bank of Israel launches QE measures to ease market volatility

(Adds details, central bank governor quote)

JERUSALEM, March 15 (Reuters) - The Bank of Israel said on Sunday it would carry out a series of quantitative easing measures for the first time since the global financial crisis, aimed at moderating volatility in markets caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

The central bank said it would buy government bonds of various types and maturities in the open market to ensure its smooth functioning. It will also offer repo, or repurchase, transactions to financial institutions with government bonds as collateral.

The measures would boost liquidity in markets and increase the effectiveness of monetary policy, it added.

The central bank last bought bonds between March and August 2009.

Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron said the steps would support capital markets, assist in implementing monetary policy and help banks.

"We are prepared for any development and will continue to take steps as needed and in line with various developments," Yaron said in a statement.

"Monetary policy continues to be expansive and supportive of economic activity. The Bank of Israel ... has a variety of tools to support economic and financial activities in the market."

The Bank of Israel's next interest rate decision is scheduled for April 6, with some economists expecting a rate reduction similar to those made by other central banks such as the Federal Reserve and Bank of England in recent days.

Over the first two weeks of March, the main Tel Aviv 125 index fell more than 22%, while government bond prices slid and the shekel weakened sharply. (Reporting by Steven Scheer and Tova Cohen; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)

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