The Federal Reserve offered no explanation for the quarter-point cut in the discount rate on the day of the near-collapse of Bear Stearns in minutes of the March 16 meeting.

The minutes, released Tuesday, said Fed regional banks unanimously approved a 25 basis point reduction in the discount rate on March 16. The same day, Bear Stearns nearly collapsed and was taken over at $2 a share by JPMorgan.

Before March 16, the minutes said, six of the regional banks were in favour of cutting the primary rate by 50 basis points, one bank wanted a 75 basis point cut and three wanted no change. They later voted to reduce the rate by a collective 100 basis points � 25 points on March 16 and 75 points at the March 18 meeting.

By Adam Button edited by Cristina Markham