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Home / Economy / Fed minutes show taper talk may arise at ‘upcoming meetings’

Federal Reserve officials were cautiously optimistic about the U.S. economic recovery at the central bank’s April meeting, with some officials signaling they’d be open to discussing scaling back the central bank’s massive bond purchases “at some point."

“A number of participants suggested that if the economy continued to make rapid progress toward the Committee’s goals, it might be appropriate at some point in upcoming meetings to begin discussing a plan for adjusting the pace of asset purchases," according to minutes from the April 27-28 Federal Open Market Committee meeting published Wednesday.

“Various participants noted that it would likely be some time until the economy had made substantial further progress toward the Committee’s maximum-employment and price-stability goals," the minutes said.

Officials held interest rates near zero at the meeting and pledged to continue buying $80 billion in Treasuries and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities every month until “substantial further progress" had been made on their employment and inflation goals.

U.S. Treasuries pressured lower on heavy futures volumes after the minutes were published, as investors digested the news that there was a group of officials open to talking about tapering bond buying. U.S. stocks edged lower

The U.S. labor market posted strong gains in March, the most recent month for which Fed officials had data at the April meeting. Policy makers have since noted they’d need to see continued strength to indicate that the economy was on its way to meeting the Fed’s test to scale back bond buying.

The recovery picture was muddled by a disappointing April jobs report, which came after the Fed’s meeting. Policy makers will have that report, plus the one for May, at their next meeting in June.

Fears of higher inflation have unsettled some investors in recent weeks amid rising commodity prices, while Fed critics argue that its ultra-easy policies, combined with massive U.S. fiscal stimulus, risk overheating the economy.

Inflation Outlook

In their comments about inflation, Fed officials said that a jump in demand along with some bottlenecks in supply would likely push inflation measures above 2% in the near term. The minutes said “a number" of participants said some supply shortages “may not be resolved quickly and, if so, these factors could put upward pressure on prices beyond this year." Still, “many" observed that longer-run inflation expectations remained anchored near the committee’s goal.

“Despite the expected short-run fluctuations in measured inflation, many participants commented that various measures of longer-term inflation expectations remained well anchored at levels broadly consistent with achieving the Committee’s longer-run goals," the minutes said.

Prices of goods surged in April, with the consumer price index posting its biggest month-over-month gain since 2009. Supply-chain bottlenecks and increased economic activity as vaccination rates climb are contributing to the price spikes, which Fed officials have said will be transitory and temporary.

Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester noted earlier this month that measures of trend inflation, including her bank’s median CPI gauge, at 2.1% in April, are still in check.

Fed officials did not update their economic projections at the April meeting. They will do so when the Fed next meets June 15-16

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