Key US banks ease off on prime lending rates

With Citibank leading the way, several major banks sliced half a point off their prime rate as they lowered the key interest rate to 161/2 percent.

Citibank's move was followed by Bankers Trust in New York and First National Bank of Chicago. The prime rate cut, begun yesterday by several small banks, came less than a week after the industry boosted the rate it charges its best corporate customers to 17 percent, quickly ending an upward trend that started early this month.

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