For the third time in six months, China's central bank is cutting interest rates to spur the country's sluggish economy by giving state-owned financial institutes more flexibility in setting rates. Citing "downward economic pressures," the People's Bank of China said Sunday that it would cut the rate on a one-year loan by commercial banks by 0.25 percentage point to 5.10 percent. The interest rate paid on a one-year deposit was lowered by 0.25 point to 2.25 percent. The rate cut reflects the Communist leadership's growing urgency about reversing a deepening slump that threatens to cause a politically dangerous spike in unemployment. Growth for the world's second-largest economy fell to 7.4 percent last year the lowest level in more than two decades. Beijing this year has lowered the target for economic growth to 7 percent. Trade also shrank by 6 percent in the first quarter. The country's imports and exports contracted again in April in a new sign of economic weakness. Interest rates were also cut on Nov. 22 and then again on March 1. The new rates take effect Monday.
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