Fed slashes rates to near zero, eases bank lending rules

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell speaks during a news conference, Tuesday, March 3, 2020, to discuss an announcement from the Federal Open Market Committee, in Washington. (Source: AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Federal Reserve took emergency action Sunday and slashed its benchmark interest rate by a full percentage point to nearly zero and announced it would purchase more Treasury securities to encourage lending to try to offset the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The central bank said the effects of the outbreak will weigh on economic activity in the near term and pose risks to the economic outlook.

The central bank said it will keep rates at nearly zero until it feels confident the economy has weathered recent events.

The Fed also said it has dropped its requirements that banks hold cash reserves in another move to encourage lending.

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