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Federal Reserve officials indicated that their monthly bond-buying program could end sooner rather than later—with an October exit growing increasingly likely. "Participants generally agreed that if incoming information continued to support its expectation of improvement in labor market conditions and a return of inflation toward its longer-run objective, it would be appropriate to complete asset purchases with a $15 billion reduction in the pace of purchases in order to avoid having the small, remaining level of purchases receive undue focus among investors," the minutes of their June meeting stated. This final reduction would occur following the October meeting. Markets showed little reaction to the news, with stocks maintaining modest gains and government bond yields slightly higher. The minutes also indicated little taste for increasing interest rates ahead of schedule, with market expectations that the first hike probably won't come until mid-2015.

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- Jeff Cox,