Fed divide on inflation intensified at September policy meeting

http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/businessNews/~3/qZ1ZLcwAShs/fed-divide-on-inflation-intensified-at-september-policy-meeting-idUSKBN1CG2I6 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal Reserve policymakers had a prolonged debate about the prospects of a pickup in inflation and slowing the path of future interest rate rises if it did not, according to the minutes of the U.S. central bank’s last policy meeting on Sept. 19-20 released on Wednesday.

The readout of the meeting, at which the Fed announced it would begin this month to reduce its large bond portfolio mostly amassed following the financial crisis and unanimously voted to hold rates steady, also showed that officials remained mostly sanguine about the economic impact of recent hurricanes.

“Many participants expressed concern that the low inflation readings this year might reflect... the influence of developments that could prove more persistent, and it was noted that some patience in removing policy accommodation while assessing trends in inflation was warranted,” the Fed said in the minutes.

As such several said that they would focus on incoming inflation data over the next few months when deciding on future interest rate moves.

Nevertheless, many policymakers still felt that another rate increase this year “was likely to be warranted,” the Fed said.

U.S. stocks and yields on U.S. Treasuries were little changed following the release of the minutes.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen has repeatedly acknowledged since the meeting that there is rising uncertainty on the path of inflation, which has been retreating from the Fed’s 2 percent target rate over the past few months.

However, Yellen and a number of other key policymakers have made plain they expect to continue to gradually raise interest rates given the strength of the overall economy and continued tightening of the labor market.

“The majority of Fed officials are worried that core inflation might not rebound quickly, but that isn’t going to stop them from continuing to normalize interest rates, particularly not when the unemployment rate is getting so low,” said Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics.

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