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Fed Announces Emergency Rate Cut In Response To Coronavirus Outbreak

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Even with the next monetary policy meeting just two weeks away, the Federal Reserve announced a surprise move to enact an emergency interest rate cut on Tuesday in response to the economic risks posed by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Fed announced that it has decided to lower the target range for the federal funds rate by 50 basis points to 1 to 1-1/4 percent.

In the accompanying statement, the Fed said the fundamentals of the U.S. economy remain strong but noted the coronavirus poses evolving risks to economic activity.

The central bank added that 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 surprise move by the Fed comes shortly after finance chiefs from the world's largest economies released a statement pledging to use "all appropriate policy tools" to address the economic fallout from the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell led a conference call with the G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to discuss the coronavirus.

In the statement released following the call, the G7 finance chiefs reaffirmed their commitment to use "all appropriate policy tools to achieve strong, sustainable growth and safeguard against downside risks."

The emergency rate cut, the first since the financial crisis, also came after President Donald Trump ramped up pressure on the Fed to lower rates.

"Our Federal Reserve has us paying higher rates than many others, when we should be paying less," Trump said in a post on Twitter. "Tough on our exporters and puts the USA at a competitive disadvantage."

"Must be the other way around. Should ease and cut rate big," he added. "Jerome Powell led Federal Reserve has called it wrong from day one. Sad!"

The unanimous decision to cut rates was widely expected to be announced after the Fed's next monetary policy meeting on March 17-18.

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