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Fed orders 1st emergency rate cut, a half-point, since financial crisis

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell holds a press conference on an emergency interest rate cut, in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell holds a press conference on an emergency interest rate cut, in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

March 3 (UPI) -- The Federal Reserve ordered an emergency half-point interest rate cut Tuesday to respond to the coronavirus' impact on the U.S. economy -- the greatest single cut since the financial crisis a decade ago.

Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said the rate cut is a measure to protect the economy from further fiscal harm related to the spread of the virus.

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"The fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong," the Federal Reserve said. "However, the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity.

"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, to 1 to 1‑1/4 percent."

The Fed said it will monitor developments stemming from the outbreak and its economic effect and use tools, as appropriate, to support the economy.

The Fed normally raises or lowers benchmark rates, or leaves them unchanged, at the conclusion of their scheduled policy meetings every few weeks. Tuesday's emergency invocation is the first time the FOMC has made such a cut since the financial crisis in 2008.

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