The European Central Bank has carried through on its promise to loan unlimited cash to steady a banking system still shaken up by the continent’s debt crisis. The central bank handed out €49.75 billion ($71.14 billion) to 114 banks that asked for it. The credit is for an unusually long period of six months, which gives banks more confidence they won’t run out of financing. The amount was more than some analysts had expected. ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet announced the credit measure last week. It comes amid market turbulence caused by Europe’s government debt crisis and fears about whether the global economy will keep growing. Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Italian yields fall at $9.4 billion Italy sold 6.5 billion of bills ($9.3 billion) on Wednesday and borrowing costs fell from the previous sale after the European Central Bank began buying the country’s bonds, leading to a plunge in yields this week. Italy sold its one-year bills to yield 2.959 percent, down from 3.67 percent at last auction on July 12. Demand was 1.94 times the amount on offer, compared with 1.55 times last month. The yield on the country’s benchmark 10-year bond has dropped 100 basis points this week as the ECB began purchasing Italian and Spanish bonds. Prior to the ECB action, the countries’ yields had surged to euro-era records on concern the countries would become the next victims of the region’s debt crisis. Australian consumer confidence slumps to lowest since 2009 Australian consumer confidence deteriorated for a fourth straight month to the lowest level in more than two years, and the head of the nation’s largest bank said he doesn’t see a turnaround soon. The sentiment index dropped 3.5 percent in August to 89.6 from a month earlier, the lowest since May 2009, according to a Westpac Banking Corp. (WBC) and Melbourne Institute survey of 1,200 consumers taken Aug. 1-6 and released on Wednesday in Sydney. It’s the longest sustained decline since early 2008. About three-quarters of respondents answered before Aug. 5, “when confidence would have been severely jolted by turmoil in global financial markets,” Bill Evans, Westpac’s chief economist, said in an e-mailed statement.