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ECB hints record-low rates could be slashed

THE European Central Bank could further reduce its record-low interest rates, President Jean-Claude Trichet told reporters yesterday, after the benchmark figure was cut by a quarter of a percentage point to 1.25 percent.

Speaking to reporters at the central bank's offices in Frankfurt, Trichet said the decision by the governing council to trim the rate was made by consensus, but added it could go lower.

"Is it the lower limit? I would say, very candidly, in regard to the main policy rate (that) it's not the lowest yet," Trichet said. "I don't exclude we could, in a very measured way, go down from the present level."

The rate is already at its lowest point since the bank was founded and since the euro was adopted 10 years ago. Trichet said, to his understanding, they are also at their lowest point since World War II.

As for other moves to lift economic activity - such as buying assets from banks to boost the availability of money - he said the bank would study them, but did not break down what those may be or what they could entail.

After a half percentage point rate cut at the last rate-setting meeting on March 5, Trichet had indicated another cut was possible and the bank was looking at new measures to breathe life into the ailing euro zone economy, which accounts for more than 15 percent of the world's gross domestic product.


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