US: Fed officials split on interest rate increase
- Low inflation key concern for decision makers


Federal Reserve officials were divided on a rate hike decision last month, according to minutes from the group’s meeting that were released Wednesday.

Low inflation was the key concern for Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) members, who decided to keep the central bank's benchmark interest rate unchanged in the 1.00-1.25 percent range.

Some members were concerned "low inflation readings this year might reflect not only transitory factors, but also the influence of developments that could prove more persistent”, the minutes said.

"Some patience in removing policy accommodation while assessing trends in inflation was warranted," it added.

Other members, however, believed inflation would return to the Fed's target of 2 percent in the medium-term and the bank should continue its rate hikes.

The members agreed on the timeline of unwinding the Fed's massive $4.5 trillion balance sheet, the minutes showed. It plans to do so by selling Treasury securities that exceed $6 billion and mortgage-backed securities that are greater than $4 billion each month, according to the minutes.

The balance sheet normalization program is set to start this month. The bank will begin by reducing $10 billion every month from its balance sheet and will gradually increase that amount next year to $50 billion monthly.

The FOMC's next meeting at the end of the month is unlikely to result in a rate hike, according to analysts.

The markets estimate an 87 percent possibility the bank would increase its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points, according to CME FedWatch Tool on Wednesday.

By Ovunc Kutlu in New York

Anadolu Agency



12 Oct,2017