Fed minutes reveal global risks causing rate hike delay

US stocks extend gains after details of US central bank’s September 16-17 meeting suggests global risks are on Fed’s radar, as well as adding inflation in US

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

US Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts, September 24, 2015

The US Federal Reserve thought the economy was close to warranting an interest rate hike in September but policymakers decided it was prudent to wait for evidence a global economic slowdown was not knocking America off course.

The minutes from the September 16-17 meeting released on Thursday showed the Fed's policymaking committee was unsettled by signs of turmoil abroad but didn't think this had "materially altered" the outlook for the economy.

"Nevertheless, in part because of the risks to the outlook for economic activity and inflation, the committee decided that it was prudent to wait for additional information," the Fed said in the minutes.

The Fed surprised much of Wall Street by keeping interest rates unchanged at the September meeting.

Some policymakers have since said the decision was a close call, and the minutes showed that most of them still thought it would be appropriate to raise rates "by the end of the year."

But in discussing how close the economy was to reaching the Fed's goals of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation, "many acknowledged that recent global economic and financial developments may have increased the downside risks to economic activity somewhat."

The Fed's last policy review happened before a string of economic data raised fears of a marked downshift in the US economy, which has fostered further doubts among investors that the Fed would raise rates this year.

Yields on US government debt edged lower following the publication of the minutes and US stocks added to gains.