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Central Banks Around World Cut Interest Rates to Bolster Economy

Financial markets in New York were volatile following the announcement of coordinated short-term interest rate cuts in Europe, America and Asia. VOA's Barry Wood has more.

European stock markets closed lower on Wednesday and New York was mixed and then lower at the close. There were big losses in London, Frankfurt and Paris. In New York the Dow Jones Industrials lost nearly 200 points to 9,248. At one point the Dow had been up by over 150 points. It was sixth straight daily decline for the Standard and Poors Index of 500 stocks.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson briefed reporters and said his priority is the stabilization of financial markets. He said the Treasury's new authority to remove the bad loans from the books of financial institutions will be fully operational within a few weeks. He said it is too early to see signs of stabilization.

"I think it is too early to look for encouraging signs in the credit markets," said Paulson. "We continue to have a good number of the markets performing as normal, but there are still many of the markets that are not performing as normal."

Paulson strongly endorsed the coordinated central bank action that early Wednesday cut short-term interest rates a half percentage point in Europe, North America and China. That move will make the cost of credit cheaper, something that should stimulate economic activity. Paulson said the key elements in bringing stability to credit markets are confidence and liquidity. He said it is not clear how long it will take for the US economy to recover from the financial crisis.

"What I'm looking to do is take all the steps we need to take to stabilize the financial system," he said.

Gold in New York gained $25 an ounce and oil was down $1 to $89 a barrel.