Fed cuts key US interest rate by 1/4 point

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WASHINGTON, Oct 31 (Reuters) The US Federal Reserve cut the benchmark federal funds rate rate by a quarter-percentage point to 4.5 percent on Wednesday to buffer the economy against a housing downturn and tighter credit conditions.

The decision by the central bank's Federal Open Market Committee was widely expected by financial markets. The U.S.

central bank lowered rates by a more aggressive half-percentage point at a meeting last month in response to market turmoil and abruptly higher risks to economic growth.

Reuters BJR VP0025

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