U.S. Federal Reserve cuts interest rates again

The U.S. central bank cut its key interest rate by 0.25 of a percentage point to 4.5 per cent on Wednesday as it tries to prevent the U.S. economy from tipping into recession.

The Federal Reserve on Wednesday cut interest rates again in a bid to shore up the health of the U.S. economy.

In a move that was not unanimous, the Federal Reserve's open market committee decided to cut rates by one-quarter of a percentage point to 4.5 per cent. The vote was 9-1 for the cut, with one member voting for no change.

Wednesday's cut followed a 0.5 percentage point reduction in September, which was the first by the Fed in four years.

The U.S. central bank has been forced to grapple with a slump in the housing market, the effects of the credit crunch, and oil prices that have risen to record levels.

"Today's action, combined with the policy action taken in September, should help forestall some of the adverse effects on the broader economy that might otherwise arise from the disruptions in financial markets and promote moderate growth over time," the Fed said Wednesday in the commentary with its rate announcement.

The Fed said it believes inflation pressures are roughlyin balance with the threat of an economic slowdown.

That could be the Fed's signal to markets that this round of interest rate cuts might be done.

Earlier Wednesday, a still-rosy economic picture for the third-quarter of the year emerged, as the U.S. Commerce Department said the economy grew by 3.9 per cent. Economists had been looking for an increase of3.1 per cent. Still-buoyant consumer spending was a main driver in the growth.

However, some economists believe the fourth quarter will show a slowdown to growth of roughly twoper cent.