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Fed steers US rates lower by quarter point

            The US Federal Reserve last night demonstrated its determination to steer the American economy away from recession when it cut its key interest rate for the seventh time this year and signalled that borrowing costs could fall again.

            The Fed announced it was cutting its funds rate by a quarter of a point to 3.5 per cent, its lowest for seven years, and also reduced its largely symbolic discount rate. The discount rate fell a quarter of a point to 3 per cent, matching lows seen in the early 1990's.

            In a statement released alongside the rate decision, the Fed reiterated its so-called "easing bias", a signal that rates are more likely to fall than rise, saying that the risks to the US economy remained "weighted mainly toward economic weakness".

            The Fed said: "Business profits and capital spending continue to weaken and growth abroad is slowing, weighing on the US economy".

In connection with recession in the American economy, the aim of the Fed is to