“Several members judged that it would be appropriate to increase the target range for the federal funds rate relatively soon if economic developments unfolded about as the committee expected,” the minutes from the Sept. 20-21 gathering in Washington showed. “It was noted that a reasonable argument could be made either for an increase at this meeting or for waiting for some additional information on the labor market and inflation.”
The Federal Open Market Committee left the benchmark lending rate unchanged in a range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent for the sixth straight meeting last month, even as a majority of the 17 participants still forecast at least one hike this year.
Uncertainties over the economic outlook and the desire by the committee to assure that job growth remains strong are likely to delay another rate increase until December, federal funds futures traders are betting. Fed officials next meet Nov. 1-2, just before the U.S. election on Nov. 8.
“Many members remarked that there were few signs of emerging inflationary pressures or that progress on inflation had been slow,” the minutes stated. Among participants in the meeting, “a substantial majority now viewed near-term risks to the economic outlook as roughly balanced,” they stated.