The Federal Reserve Board cut its benchmark interest rate by 50 basis points Wednesday, to 1%, matching a half-century low, to avert the worst economic downturn in the postwar era.

"Downside risks to growth remain,'' the Federal Open Market Committee said. "Recent policy actions, including today's rate reduction, coordinated interest rate cuts by central banks, extraordinary liquidity measures, and official steps to strengthen financial systems, should help over time to improve credit conditions and promote a return to moderate economic growth.''

On Oct. 8 the Fed lowered its rate by 50 basis points in coordination with the European Central Bank and four other central banks.

Wednesday's Fed vote was unanimous. The central bank also lowered the discount rate 50 basis points, to 1.25%.

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