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European, Asian Stock Markets Post Gains After Central Banks Cut Interest Rates

Asian stock markets soared Thursday, one day after the U.S. central bank cut its key interest rate by one-half of one percent.

Japan's Nikkei index closed up 10 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was up almost 13 percent. Elsewhere, the gains included 12 percent in Seoul, six percent in Taipei and four percent in Sydney.

European stock markets also were higher in early trading, although the gains were more modest than in Asia.

On Wednesday, U.S. Federal Reserve officials said they cut the main interest rate because the economy is slowing "markedly". They said key parts of the U.S. economy, like consumer spending and business investment are slowing down.

This is the second Fed rate cut in a month. Officials expect that lower interest rates and other efforts to bolster the economy will eventually return "moderate" economic growth.

The Fed is one of many central banks around the world cutting rates in an effort to stimulate the battered global economy.

Another sign that recovery efforts are beginning to help is seen in the increased willingness of banks to lend money to each other. The "Libor" rate measures how worried lenders are that they might not be repaid, and it has been gradually improving for about two weeks.

Some information for this report was provided by Bloomberg.