updated 3/2/2006 9:52:20 AM ET 2006-03-02T14:52:20

The European Central Bank raised its key interest rate by a quarter percentage rate to 2.5 percent on Thursday.

The widely-anticipated hike comes after ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet had taken note of the strengthening economy in the 12 nations that share the euro as their common currency and worries about inflation.

The increase from 2.25 percent was the second quarter-point increase in four months by the bank after it held rates steady for more than two years.

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