US Fed meeting minutes show policymakers anxious about inflation


US Fed meeting minutes show policymakers anxious about inflation

The readout of the July 25-26 meeting showed some members called for halting interest rate hikes until it was clear the inflation trend was transitory, but it also indicated the Fed was poised to begin reducing its $4.2 trillion portfolio of bonds.

The New Zealand dollar gained as minutes of the last Federal Reserve policy meeting showed some concern that inflation isn't as strong as expected, although policymakers appear committed to unwinding the Fed's massive balance sheet.

US stocks pared gains on Wednesday amid signs that a fissure was developing on the Federal Reserve's policy-setting board.

Participants of the meeting did unanimously agree that regulatory and supervisory tools that have been developed since the housing crisis have been paramount in helping maintain financial stability, as well as the fact that a continued, slow increase in the federal funds rate was an appropriate solution to maintain their goal of maximum employment and an inflation rate that hovered around 2 percent.

The Fed has raised its benchmark overnight lending rate twice this year and forecasts one more rise before the end of 2017.

The Fed's main gauge of inflation, the personal consumption expenditures price index, rose only 1.4 percent in May from the previous year.

Other policymakers, however, argued that a delay in hiking rates could lead to an inflation overshoot and an "intensification of financial stability risks or to other imbalances that might prove hard to unwind".

"We've gone from the last meeting where there were a few members anxious about inflation undershooting 2 percent for a while, and that group is now many", said Richard Franulovich, senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corporation.

Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen has attributed low inflation to sharp, one-time declines in prescription drugs and cell phone plans, saying inflation is likely to inch toward the Fed's target rate soon.

A slide in inflation readings in recent months, which remain below the Fed's 2 percent target rate, have made the markets skeptical about a rate hike by December.

Before Trump's announcement and the Fed minutes, the dollar index had risen for a third straight session and reached its highest level since July 21 before turning lower.

US stocks got a boost from the Fed minutes but still ended below their highs.

Financials stocks were also down 0.2% to round out the losers.

Meanwhile the Fed plans to defer a decision on starting to pare back its enormous balance sheet "until an upcoming meeting", giving investors a little more detail as to when it will stop buying securities under its bond purchase programme.

The greenback was higher on Tuesday, as U.S. retail sales beat forecasts in July and the New York Fed President William Dudley backed another rate hike this year.

The FOMC meets next in September.