Washington: Federal Reserve policymakers appeared reticent to make any quick move toward increasing interest rates, the minutes of the Fed’s January meeting showed Wednesday.

Many members of the Federal Open Market Committee were concerned about the absence of inflationary pressure, and thought the US central bank could afford to move slowly toward a rate increase, the minutes show.

With the benchmark fed funds rate at the zero level since the end of 2008, the discussion at the FOMC’s January 27-28 policy meeting showed the body was still focused on raising the rate—“normalizing" monetary policy—in the near term.

But with inflation continuing to fall away from its 2.0% target, the US labour market still showing slack, and economies in Europe and Asia mired in troubles, many of the policymakers showed they were content to wait.

“Many" of the meeting’s participants indicated that the environment “had inclined them toward keeping the federal funds rate at its effective lower bound for a longer time," the minutes said.

Moreover, “many participants observed that a premature increase in rates might damp the apparent solid recovery in real activity and labor market conditions."

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