Jerome Powell, chairman of the U.S.Federal Reserve, speaks during a news conference in Washington,D.C., today. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The Federal Reserve slashed interest rates by half a percentagepoint in the first such emergency move since the 2008 financialcrisis, amid mounting concern that the coronavirus outbreak threatens to stall therecord U.S. economic expansion.

The rate cut, which came between the central bank's regularlyscheduled meetings, was announced hours after Group of Seven (G-7)finance chiefs held a rare teleconference to pledge they'd do allthey can to combat the fast-moving health crisis.

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