Stocks Steady After Release of Fed Minutes

Mike Powell  Getty Images

Mike Powell Getty Images

Others pushed for more time to first see how the broader US economy fares during the second half of 2017. The economy has now reached a solid enough point that the Fed may look to begin unwinding its holdings at some point this year.

The Federal Reserve's focus on raising interest rates risks limiting economic growth at a time when inflation trails the central bank's target, said Greg Peters, who helps oversee more than $650 billion at PGIM Fixed Income.

The Fed's holdings have surged five-fold since 2008, ballooning in size as the Fed bought Treasury and mortgage bonds. The labor market is strengthening, while business investment and consumer spending appear to be recovering from recent lows.

Some committee members were also concerned that investors had not reacted to the central bank's last three rate increases, with financial conditions remaining easy despite the rising cost of borrowing.

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After the June meeting, Yellen said the plan would lead to "a gradual and largely predictable decline" in the assets.

The strengthening job market left a lot of them comfortable with raising a key short-term rate last month.

Following the release of Wednesday's minutes, Fed funds futures markets maintained their prediction that the central bank would not increase rates again before December. "Some others emphasized that deferring the decision until later in the year would permit additional time to assess the outlook for economic activity and inflation".

Of the officials voting on the rates, only Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari objected.

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United States central bankers are divided over the risk of inflation and disagree over the timing of interest rate hikes into next year, minutes of the last Federal Reserve meeting showed Wednesday. The minutes noted, however, that "several participants expressed concern that progress toward the committee's 2 percent longer-run inflation objective might have slowed and that the recent softness in inflation might persist".

Inflation has remained nearly continuously below the central bank's 2 percent target for more than five years. This is because a rate hike can have an impact at a lag.

The interest rate increase was a vote of confidence in the economy.

Since that meeting, final GDP figures for the first quarter showed economic growth was better than expected. This assessment would take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and global developments.

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