Many banks ease up on prime interest

Continental Illinois National Bank & Trust Company, the nation's seventh-largest bank, cut its prime lending rate one percentage point Monday, to 18 1/2 percent, and a flood of other major banks lowered their prime by half a percentage point, to 19 percent. It is the lowest level the benchmark rate has been since Dec. 5.

Analysts said weakened credit demand and the sluggish growth in the nation's money supply allowed the Federal Reserve to ease up on money-market conditions. But because of continued inflationary pressures, analy sts cautioned that interest rates would likely remain high.

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