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March 3, 2020 10:45 AM, EST

Fed Cuts Rates Half Point in Emergency Move Amid Spreading Virus

CoronavirusA commuter wears a face mask in the Metro Center train station in Washington. (Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg News)

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The U.S. Federal Reserve delivered an emergency half-percentage point interest rate cut March 3 in a bid to protect the longest-ever economic expansion from the spreading coronavirus.

“The coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity,” the Fed said in a statement. “In light of these risks and in support of achieving its maximum employment and price stability goals, the Federal Open Market Committee decided today to lower the target range for the federal funds rate by 1/2 percentage point.”

The central bank also said it is “closely monitoring developments and their implications for the economic outlook and will use its tools and act as appropriate to support the economy.”

The vote for the emergency cut to a range of 1% to 1.25% was unanimous. The Fed also said in the statement that the “fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong.”

It acted hours after Fed Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and finance chiefs from the Group of Seven nations said they would “use all appropriate policy tools to achieve strong, sustainable growth and safeguard against downside risks.” That echoed a statement Powell made Feb. 28.

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