EARLY PAYOFF: The first banks stepped forward Friday to make €137.2 billion ($183 billion) in early repayments on the European Central Bank's cheap, three-year emergency loans, in a sign of easing market conditions in the euro area.
BIG BAILOUT: The ECB launched the unprecedented €1 trillion ($1.3 trillion) loan operation in two tranches at the end of 2011 and again in February 2012 in an attempt to relieve stress on banks at the height of the debt crisis.
THE BACKDROP: The ECB's aim was to ensure lenders had enough funding to do business so that the flow of credit to the wider economy wasn't squeezed.
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