Euro zone releases $6b as Portugal bailout nears end

LUXEMBOURG (AFP) - The euro zone approved on Tuesday the disbursement of 3.7 billion euros (S$6.23 billion) in rescue loans to Portugal, taking Lisbon's bailout to its final stage, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) said in a statement.

"After a couple of years of intense adjustment and tremendous efforts by its people, Portugal reaches now the decisive phase towards regaining market access," said EFSF head Klaus Regling.

"This goal is within reach," he underlined.

With a final 1.2 billion euros still to be disbursed, the EFSF said the financial assistance programme for Portugal "will have been completed by the middle of 2014".

The disbursement was approved five days after euro finance ministers announced that Ireland and Spain would exit their sovereign and banking bailouts in December and in January respectively, without any credit line.