Fed surprises by reducing rates to 4.5%

UNITED STATES - The US Federal Reserve on Apr 18 continued its agressive easing of monetary policy by cutting interest rates by 0.5% for the fourth time this year.

Moreover, this is the second time this year that the Federal Open Market Committee has cut interest rates in between official designated meetings. World stock markets rallied sharply after the annoucement.

The FOMC last cut interest rates at its regular FOMC meeting on Mar 20, 2001. At the time the markets had been hoping for a more