MILAN - Italy raised 9.0 billion euros ($11.3 billion) at a six-month debt sale on Wednesday, paying sharply lower rates for the second day running owing to growing expectations of ECB intervention.

Borrowing costs on the six-month issue dropped to 1.585 percent from 2.454 percent on July 27, the Bank of Italy said, confirming analysts expectations of a successful sale ahead of a more challenging auction on Thursday.

On Tuesday, Rome had raised 3.75 billion euros on zero coupon bonds and inflation-linked debt, with sharply lower yields amid speculation obout a possible intervention by the European Central Bank.

Prime Minister Mario Monti said in an interview with Il Sole 24 Ore newspaper on Wednesday that the success of Tuesday's auction was a sign that the government's economic policy was working to soothe investor fears.

The Treasury faces a bigger test on Thursday when it will issue up to 6.5 billion euros in five- and 10-year bonds. Analysts expect the auction to give a clearer idea of investor sentiment.

Italy, eurozone's third largest economy and one of the biggest markets for sovereign bonds, is in a severe recession that has curbed interest in Rome's 10-year debt.