What the minutes from the Federal Reserve's October meeting tell us

 
Joe Hall
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Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen (Source: Getty)
The minutes from the Federal Reserve's October 28 - 29 meeting showed little debate between its members on the key aspects of last month's statement.
Last month, the Fed stuck to its pledge to keep interest rates near zero for a "considerable time" but gave little indication as to when interest rates would raise. None were forthcoming in the minutes.
Here's the key takeaways from the minutes and the reaction to them.
What was the market reaction?
Well, there wasn’t much of one. With few new developments, markets largely carried on as normal.
The key US markets have all drifted down slightly following an initial uptick. Here’s how they stood after closing time:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: -0.04 per cent.
S&P 500: -0.15 per cent.
New York Stock Exchange Composite Index: -0.13 per cent.
Nasdaq Composite Index: -0.57 per cent.
The dollar weakened against the euro and the pound, falling 0.11 per cent and 0.33 per cent respectively.
Ending the asset-purchasing program was a no-brainer
The same number all agreed to stick with its pledge to keep interest rates at a historic low of zero to 0.25 per cent for a “considerable time”, however the minutes revealed extensive discussions on this matter.
Some argued that, but others said it gave the impression it would ignore any positive incoming data.
In the end, the committee agreed to qualify the language by adding that “if incoming information indicates faster progress toward the committee’s employment and inflation objectives… then increases in the target range for the federal funds rate are likely to occur sooner than currently anticipated.”
The Fed doesn’t want to appear too pessimistic
The Fed appeared unsure whether or not to make reference to a weakening global economy in last month's statement, worried it would come off as too pessimistic.
The minutes state:
A couple of participants noted that it was likely too early to draw conclusions regarding these developments, especially in light of the recent market volatility.
However, many participants observed that the committee should remain attentive to evidence of a possible downward shift in longer-term inflation expectations; some of them noted that if such an outcome occurred, it would be even more worrisome if growth faltered.

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