Federal Reserve officials saw it taking some time before the conditions would be met for scaling back their massive monthly asset purchases when they met last month.

“Participants noted that it would likely be some time until substantial further progress toward the Committee’s maximum-employment and price-stability goals would be realized,” according to minutes from the March 16-17 Federal Open Market Committee meeting published Wednesday.

US central bankers left their asset purchase program of $120 billion per month unchanged at the meeting and forecast they would keep the benchmark lending rate near zero until at least 2023. That was despite sharply upgrading their forecasts for growth this year amid rising confidence and a fresh round of fiscal stimulus.

In explanation, Fed Chair Jerome Powell told reporters after the meeting that the economy was “a long way” from maximum employment and sustainable 2% inflation. He also said “it is likely to take some time for substantial further progress to be achieved,” in a reference to the threshold that officials have set for scaling back their asset purchases.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.

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