WASHINGTON – The Federal Reserve Board voted 5-0 to cut the largely symbolic discount rate on Wednesday at the same time as they cut the more widely watched federal funds rate.
The discount rate is the rate at which banks may borrow funds from the central bank. The rate is set by the Board in consultation with the regional Fed banks. In taking the discount action, the Fed said it acted on the requests of regional Fed banks in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Dallas, and San Francisco.
The central bank on Wednesday cut key interest rates by 0.5 percentage point in a surprise move in between its regularly scheduled meetings, bringing the fed funds rate down to 4.5 percent and the discount rate to 4.0 percent.
A conference call was held at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday among Fed policymakers, Fed spokeswoman Lynn Fox said.
The broader Federal Open Market Committtee sets the fed funds rate, while the Fed board votes on the discount rate.