The European Central Bank said it would lower its key lending rate from 1.25 percent to 1 percent to add liquidity to the economy. The expected move reverses the bank\'s mid-summer interest rate hike, which was enacted as the economic upturn in the early months of the year was beginning to fade. The bank, then under president Jean-Claude Trichet, was sharply criticized at the time for raising rates before the recovery solidified. Thursday\'s move was widely expected and follows a November interest rate reduction from 1.5 percent to 1.25 percent. Trichet successor Mario Draghi said at a press conference in Frankfurt, Germany, the rate was lowered to \"ensure enhanced access of the banking sector to liquidity and to facilitate the functioning of the euro area money market.\"