JERUSALEM Dec 24 The Bank of Israel lowered its
benchmark interest rate to 1.75 percent on Monday, the second
quarter point cut in three months, taking advantage of a very
low inflation environment to aid Israel's slowing economy.
Analysts had thought the decision could go either way, with
the 14 economists polled by Reuters evenly split as to the
The central bank had reduced its key rate in late October
for the time since June in a move aimed at supporting the
economy while inflation was tame.
Inflation eased to a 1.4 percent annual rate in November to
remain well within a government target of 1-3 percent. The
economy is expected to have grown about 3.5 percent this year
but slip to a pace of about 3 percent in 2013, although much
depends on economic growth in Europe, the United States and
Some economists expect one more rate reduction early next