Federal Reserve policymakers appeared increasingly wary about recent weak inflation and some called for halting interest rate hikes until it was clear the trend was transitory, according to the minutes of the U.S. central bank’s last policy meeting, Reuters reports.
The readout of the July 25-26 meeting, released on Wednesday, also indicated the Fed was poised to begin reducing its $4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.
Last month’s meeting, which concluded with a unanimous decision to leave rates unchanged, was marked by a lengthy discussion about the recent soft inflation readings, the minutes showed.
The central bank’s preferred inflation measure dropped to 1.5 percent in June from 1.8 percent in February and has remained below its 2 percent target for more than five years.
“Many participants … saw some likelihood that inflation might remain below 2 percent for longer than they currently expected, and several indicated that the risks to the inflation outlook could be tilted to the downside,” the Fed said in the minutes.
The inflation retreat has spurred concerns the Fed may have to cool its monetary tightening pace even though the economy is growing moderately and the unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in July, matching a 16-year low touched in May.