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Ireland and Portugal cut rates

TWO MORE European central banks cut key interest rates yesterday ahead of the launch of the single European currency in January 1999. The Irish central bank cut its repo rate by 1.25 percentage points to 4.94 per cent from 6.19, effective from Monday, while the Bank of Portugal cut its repo rate by 50 basis points to 4.00 per cent.

Earlier this week Spain cut its repo rate by half a percentage point, while both Denmark and the UK - neither of which will join the euro in the first round - cut repo rates by a quarter point. Analysts said both Spain and Portugal still need to cut further before the end of the year to bring them in line with rates in leading euro-zone countries such as Germany.