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OTTAWA, March 13 (Reuters) - The Bank of Canada unexpectedly cut its overnight rate by 50 basis points to 0.75% on Friday, its second half-point cut in nine days, and the government said it would offer C$10 billion ($7.2 billion) in credit support to businesses.
Canada ramped up its response to the coronavirus on Friday, advising citizens against non-essential foreign travel and promising "significant" financial aid for Canadians, which Finance Minister Bill Morneau said would be presented next week.
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz and Morneau held an unprecedented joint press conference to announce the policy changes.
"This unscheduled rate decision is a proactive measure taken in light of the negative shocks to Canada's economy arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent sharp drop in oil prices," the bank said in a statement.
"As the situation evolves, Governing Council stands ready to adjust monetary policy further if required to support economic growth and keep inflation on target," the bank said.
Just eight days ago, Poloz said the resilience of the Canadian economy could be "seriously tested" by a coronavirus outbreak.
"These are extraordinary times and that means we are ready to take extraordinary measures," Morneau told reporters. ($1 = 1.3943 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Kelsey Johnson and David Ljunggren, writing by Steve Scherer; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)