Federal Reserve policymakers were increasingly split on the outlook for inflation and how it might affect the future pace of interest rate rises, according to the minutes of the Fed's last policy meeting on June 13-14 released on Wednesday. The minutes show a Fed divided between officials comfortable with the unemployment rate undershooting their estimates about the sustainable level and those who fret that "a substantial and sustained unemployment undershooting" could trigger inflation or financial instability.
"A few participants also judged that the case for a policy rate increase at this meeting was strengthened by the easing, by some measures, in overall financial conditions", according to the minutes.
Last month's 8-1 vote to lift the benchmark interest rate another quarter percentage point, its second this year, signaled the Fed's confidence in a growing US economy and the eventual inflationary effects of low unemployment. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remained low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations had changed little on balance.
Cramer said he still expects to see a rate hike in September.
"These views suggest that a third rate hike this year remains a solid base case, but also that such a hike is unlikely to come before the December meeting", said Roberto Perli, an economist at Cornerstone Macro.
"Several" policy makers were in favor of starting the reduction of its $4.5 trillion balance sheet within a "couple of months". The Federal Open Market Committee, the monetary policy arm of the us central bank, opted to raise interest rates at its June 13-14 meeting.
It topped $1,223 in electronic trading immediately after the Fed minutes, then pulled back under $1,221.
The Fed said in June it would runoff maturing principal payments on Treasuries initially at $6 billion per month, increasing by $6 billion every three months over 12 months, until it reaches $30 billion.
The strengthening job market left a lot of them comfortable with raising a key short-term rate last month.
The Fed's next meeting is July 25-26.
After the June meeting, Yellen said the plan would lead to "a gradual and largely predictable decline" in the assets.
But others pushed for holding off on a decision "until later in the year", saying that kicking off the process too soon could send the signal that the Fed had moved away from its current plan to tighten policy only gradually.
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