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Fed makes emergency rate cut of 0.75% to 3.50%; Sell-off resumes in Europe;  US markets plunge at opening in New York - 2.35 pm

The interest rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the US Federal Reserve today made an emergency interest rate cut in advance of the opening of US markets, which were expected to fall sharply following a global stocks' rout on fears of a US recession.

The FOMC cut the federal funds rate by 0.75% to 3.50%, which compares with the European Central Bank's benchmark rate of 4%.

Today's cut was the biggest individual one since October 1984.

In London, the FTSE 100 fell after a rise of 1.55% and is now adown 0.27% ; the German Dax cut losses and was down 0.77% but is now lower by 1.99% and France's CAC 40 is down having 0.87% having risen 1.09% after the Fed announcement.

In Dublin, the ISEQ jumped almost 2% to a rise of over 3.4% but is back at a plus 1.70%.

Investors simply were selling into the rallies to book profits as the economic outlook remains bleak.

At 2:35 pm , US markets have plunged at the opening. Dow is currently down 451 points, 3.72%; the Nasdaq has dropped more that 5% and the S&P is off 3.51%.

National benchmarks -  Europe

Irish Share Prices

Euribor Rates

Live US Market Indices - the US markets opened at 2:30 pm Irish time.

FOMC Statement

The Federal Open Market Committee has decided to lower its target for the federal funds rate 75 basis points to 3-1/2 percent.

The Committee took this action in view of a weakening of the economic outlook and increasing downside risks to growth.  While strains in short-term funding markets have eased somewhat, broader financial market conditions have continued to deteriorate and credit has tightened further for some businesses and households.  Moreover, incoming information indicates a deepening of the housing contraction as well as some softening in labor markets.

The Committee expects inflation to moderate in coming quarters, but it will be necessary to continue to monitor inflation developments carefully.

Appreciable downside risks to growth remain.  The Committee will continue to assess the effects of financial and other developments on economic prospects and will act in a timely manner as needed to address those risks.

Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were: Ben S. Bernanke, Chairman; Timothy F. Geithner, Vice Chairman; Charles L. Evans; Thomas M. Hoenig; Donald L. Kohn; Randall S. Kroszner; Eric S. Rosengren; and Kevin M. Warsh.  Voting against was William Poole, who did not believe that current conditions justified policy action before the regularly scheduled meeting next week. Absent and not voting was Frederic S. Mishkin.

In a related action, the Board of Governors approved a 75-basis-point decrease in the discount rate to 4 percent.  In taking this action, the Board approved the requests submitted by the Boards of Directors of the Federal Reserve Banks of Chicago and Minneapolis

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