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ECB has options to quell market rates if need be -Mersch

The headquarters of the European Central Bank (ECB) are pictured in Frankfurt June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

DUBAI (Reuters) - The European Central Bank is nowhere near starting to rein in its aid for the euro zone economy and has various options which it can use to prevent excessive rises in money market rates, ECB Executive Board member Yves Mersch said on Monday.

The ECB signalled earlier this month it believed rises in the interest rates banks charge each other to borrow were unwarranted and was ready to cut interest rates further or pump more cash into the system to bring them down if need be.

But economists have questioned whether the bank can keep market rates at rock bottom given signs that a number of major economies are picking up and expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will begin reining in its own stimulus this week.

"We have still options available," Mersch said, asked whether the ECB was running out of ways to curb rates. "In our classical monetary policy instruments we have room, we also have room in our liquidity management, we also have room in our non-standard policy."

"So from that point I can assure you that we are far from running out of options and I do not see at present why we would have to rush already to the next door, open it and take something from the shelf."

Markets have started handing back some excess liquidity that they were given via the ECB's unconventional policies, and it is natural in these circumstances that rates should move, Mersch added, speaking at a banking conference in the United Arab Emirates.

"But this being said we are not yet in a normal period, we are not yet in the exit trajectory. So we do not want the markets to become excessively exuberant in this respect, and (we want) to steer this transition from the rate near the deposit facility to the rate close to the MRO (main refinancing operation) in an orderly fashion."

Mersch said there were green shoots of recovery emerging in Europe's economy but they were very tentative and needed to be managed with great care.

(Reporting by Martin Dokoupil; Writing by Andrew Torchia; editing by Patrick Graham)