The nation's largest banks moved quickly on Wednesday to lower their prime lending rates by a quarter of a point, possibly giving a lift to loan demand.

Responding to the Federal Reserve's decision to cut the federal funds rate to 5.5% from 5.75%, Banc One Corp., Citicorp, Chase Manhattan Corp., BankAmerica Corp., and other major banks lowered their prime interest rates to 8.5%. The rest of the industry is expected to follow suit.

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