WASHINGTON -- Federal Reserve policymakers, expecting to pull back on their bond-buying stimulus in the "coming months," are considering keeping short-term interest rates quite low for quite a while, among other options.
An account of the Fed's meeting last month, released Wednesday with the usual three-week lag, shows that central bank officials saw no major change in the economic path of the country from their previous session in September when they surprised markets by not yet reducing the Fed's $85 billion in monthly bond purchases.
The minutes leave open the possibility that the Fed policymakers could start cutting back on the bond buying at their last scheduled meeting of the year, set for Dec. 17-18. Analysts, however, generally think the Fed probably will wait until January or March before making any such move, given the economy's mixed signals and uncertain outlook.
On the whole, economic data since the Fed's Oct. 29-30 meeting have been somewhat brighter. Payroll-job gains were surprisingly strong in October, despite the partial federal government shutdown and budget standoff in Washington, and the economy overall grew at a faster-than-expected pace in the third quarter. However, growth this quarter is looking considerably weaker, and the housing market has lost some spark since mortgage rates rose in the summer.