Washington (US), May 20: Some U.S. Federal Reserve officials signaled that they would be open to start discussing tapering the central bank's asset purchase program at upcoming meetings, according to the minutes of the Fed's recent policy meeting released Wednesday.
"A number of participants suggested that if the economy continued to make rapid progress toward the Committee's goals, it might be appropriate at some point in upcoming meetings to begin discussing a plan for adjusting the pace of asset purchases," the Fed said in the minutes of its April 27-28 meeting, referring to the Fed's policy-making committee.
"Various participants noted that it would likely be some time until the economy had made substantial further progress toward the Committee's maximum-employment and price-stability goals," the minutes said.
The Fed has pledged to keep its benchmark interest rates unchanged at the record-low level of near zero, while continuing its asset purchase program at least at the current pace of 120 billion U.S. dollars per month until the economic recovery makes "substantial further progress."
While the Fed doesn't give the definition of "substantial further progress," many Fed officials believed that the central bank needs to see more improvement in the labor market before confirming that such progress has been made.
U.S. employers added 266,000 jobs in April, far fewer than economists' estimates of 1 million new jobs, with the unemployment rate little changed at 6.1 percent, according to the Labor Department.
"The May and June jobs report may reveal that April was an outlier, but we need to see that first before we start thinking about adjusting our policy stance," Fed governor Christopher Waller said last week.
"We need to see several more months of data before we get a clear picture of whether we have made substantial progress towards our dual mandate goals," Waller said.
James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, said Wednesday that the Fed is getting closer to considering scaling back its ultra-loose monetary policy if the COVID-19 pandemic is fully under control.
"If we got to the point where we were comfortable on the public health side that the pandemic was largely behind us, and was not going to resurge in some way that was surprising, then I think we could talk about adjusting monetary policy," he said.