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Fed policymakers grow more worried about weak inflation

By LINDSAY DUNSMUIR and JASON LANGE
Reuters

August 16. 2017 9:13PM


WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve policymakers appeared increasingly wary about recent weak inflation and some called for halting interest rate hikes until it was clear the trend was transitory, according to the minutes of the central bank's last policy meeting.

The readout of the July 25-26 meeting, released on Wednesday, also indicated the Fed was poised to begin reducing its $4.2 trillion portfolio of Treasury bonds and mortgage-backed securities.

Last month's meeting, which concluded with a unanimous decision to leave rates unchanged, was marked by a lengthy discussion about the recent soft inflation readings, the minutes showed.

The central bank's preferred inflation measure dropped to 1.5 percent in June from 1.8 percent in February and has remained below its 2 percent target for more than five years.

The inflation retreat has spurred concerns the Fed may have to cool its monetary tightening pace even though the economy is growing moderately and the unemployment rate fell to 4.3 percent in July, matching a 16-year low touched in May.

The Fed has raised its benchmark overnight lending rate twice this year and forecasts one more rise before the end of 2017.


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