Us Federal Reserve officials felt they could decide to start scaling back the US central bank’s massive asset purchase programme at one of its next few meetings, provided this was warranted by economic growth, minutes of the Fed’s October meeting showed.
“Many members stressed the data-dependent nature of the current asset purchase program,” said the minutes of the October 29-30 meeting, released on Wednesday.
“Some pointed out that, if economic conditions warranted, the Committee could decide to slow the pace of purchases at one of its next few meetings.” Policymakers are next scheduled to gather on December 17-18.
The S&P 500 and the Dow turned lower after the release of minutes from the meeting, while the Nasdaq pared gains. The Dow Jones industrial average was down 20.30 points, or 0.13 per cent, at 15,946.73. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was down 1.26 points, or 0.07 percent, at 1,786.61. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 3.46 points, or 0.09 percent, at 3,935.02.
Investors are now looking for clues as to whether the Fed will begin reducing its $85 billion monthly asset purchases as soon as December. Most economists think the Fed will maintain the stimulus until early next year, at least. But the minutes could dislodge those expectations.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed down 0.3 per cent at 6,681.08 while Germany’s DAX rose 0.1 per cent to 9,202.07. The CAC-40 in France ended 0.1 per cent lower at 4,268.37. The Fed’s stimulus, in its various guises, has helped shore up risky assets, such as stocks around the world and emerging market currencies, over the past few years as the money created has been recycled through financial markets.
Earlier, Asian markets generally fell, though Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 0.2 per cent to 23,700.86 and China’s Shanghai Composite reversed losses to gain 0.6 per cent to 2,206.61 after the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development made positive remarks about the Chinese economy.
Seoul’s Kospi was down 0.7 per cent to 2,017.24. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 ceded 0.8 per cent to 5,307.70. Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average shed 0.3 per cent to 15,076.08, hurt by a rise in the yen. Elsewhere, the euro was under pressure amid speculation that the
European Central Bank may do more to shore up the economic recovery.