FRANKFURT - The European Central Bank cut its purchases of government bonds to a bare €63 million ($82.6 million) last week, easing back on a key crisis measure as indebted governments found some respite.

The purchases compare with €2.24 billion from the week before and €3.76 billion the week before that. The ECB's purchases have varied over the past weeks. It bought as little as €19 million the week ending Dec. 23.

The bond purchases are one of the tools the ECB uses in fighting the eurozone debt crisis. Bond purchases in the secondary market lower the yields on those bonds, and that can help lower the interest rates countries pay when they borrow.

European governments, however, have seen borrowing rates fall at bond auctions held since the beginning of the year.

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