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Markets Poised Ahead Of Rate Decisions

(c) Sky News 2012

Markets are poised ahead of interest rate decisions from three of the world's leading central banks.

The US Federal Reserve announced late on Wednesday it would leave key interest rates unchanged, but signalled it was ready to take more action if needed.

In a statement, the American central bank said economic activity had slowed over the first half of the year, unemployment remained high and consumer spending was rising at a somewhat slower pace.

The Bank of England (BoE) and the European Central Bank (ECB) have monetary policy meetings on Thursday.

As uncertainty surrounding the interest rate decisions continued, it was a mixed result at the end of trading on the European markets.

Whilst London's FTSE 100 (Euronext: VFTSE.NX - news) closed up 1.38%, Germany's DAX (Xetra: ^GDAXI - news) and Spain's IBEX closed down by around a quarter of a percent.

Market anticipation had been building over whether or not the Federal Reserve would act to provide further stimulus for the weakening US economy.

Many industry analysts expected the outlook for the US economy to be weaker than the Federal Reserve predicted in June.

The Fed confirmed growth had slowed to an annual rate of just 1.5% from April through June, down from a 2% rate in the first quarter.

The US decision comes following the ECB's pledge to do "whatever it takes" to save the euro.

Last week, ECB president Mario Draghi expressed fresh support with his comments, raising hopes for bold new measures to be implemented by the bank.

Meanwhile, the US is increasing pressure on eurozone leaders to take decisive action to solve the area's debt crisis.

Speaking on Bloomberg Television, US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner said the eurozone should be "bringing down interest rates in the countries that are reforming and making sure those banking systems can provide the credit those economies need."