ECB makes new bid to calm end-of-year fears

The European Central Bank (ECB) responded to panic in the interbank markets on Friday by pledging to lend over longer periods.

In an effort to bring down costs for interbank euro-denominated loans, the central bank will extend the maturity date of its 19 December main refinancing operation from 28 December to 4 January 2008.

The central bank said the 19 December operation "will aim to satisfy the banking sector's liquidity needs for the entire two-week period, covering both the Christmas holi