Banks to repay ECB 10.9 billion euros of crisis loans

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Banks will return early 10.941 billion euros (9.32 billion pounds) of crisis loans to the European Central Bank next week, more than expected as worries of euro zone stability abate.

ECB President Mario Draghi said earlier this month that the currency bloc was "now in a position to cope with serious crises without them becoming existential or systemic".

He also stressed that the ECB would provide unlimited liquidity to banks for as long as needed.

The ECB flooded euro zone banks with more than 1 trillion euros in two long-term refinancing operations (LTROs) in December 2011 and February 2012 to avert a credit crunch.

Just over a year into the three-year loans, banks have the option to repay them early and on Friday, the ECB said 14 banks would repay 8.874 billion euros from the first LTRO on April 24, and 15 banks 2.067 billion euros from the second.

A Reuters poll of euro money market traders had expected banks to return a total of 7 billion euros next week.

This week, banks repaid the ECB a total of 10.793 billion euros in crisis loans.

Announcements on details of LTRO early repayments (bln euro)

First LTRO (December 2011) Second LTRO (February 2012)

(Writing by Paul Carrel)