Some Fed officials see time nigh for stimulus cuts

Some policy-makers at the Federal Reserve's last policy meeting believed that it should begin reducing its stimulus program soon, the minutes of the July 30-31 meeting showed Wednesday.

"A few" members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) "suggested that it might soon be time to slow somewhat the pace" of asset purchases by which the Fed pumps easy money into the economy, the minutes said.

Others in the group however "emphasized the importance of being patient" before embarking on reductions to the $85 billion a month bond-buying program.

They felt that more data on whether the economy will pick up pace as expected in the second half of this year is needed, the minutes showed.

Nevertheless, together the policy-makers agreed at the time to stick by their official public stance that trimming the stimulus, known as quantitative easing, would begin sometime later this year and that the program would be wound up completely by mid-2014, on condition the economy broadly continued to improve.

With the FOMC members still in debate over how strong the pickup in the jobs market is, and how higher market interest rates and continued government spending cuts might impact growth, "almost all Committee members agreed that a change in the purchase program was not yet appropriate" at the time of the meeting.

pmh/vs