NEW YORK – Only a few Federal Reserve policymakers thought it would soon be time to "slow somewhat" the pace of the central bank's bond-buying at a meeting last month, while others emphasized patience in deciding when to start to wind down the stimulus program.
Minutes of the U.S. central bank's July 30-31 meeting, released on Wednesday, showed that almost all of the 12 members of the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee agreed a change to the stimulus was not yet appropriate.
KARIM BASTA, CHIEF INVESTMENT STRATEGIST AT HEDGE FUND III ASSOCIATES IN BOSTON:
"What's happening in financial markets is influential. If you were to get some sort of dramatic downward movement in equities in tandem with a sharp rise in interest rates, then those might be factors that would cause them to delay the start of the taper.
"At some level the Fed is certainly wondering what would be the reaction if we do announce tapering next month, and if this is another step toward that outcome and the reaction in the market is relatively muted, then that is of some comfort."
ROBERT TIPP, CHIEF INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, PRUDENTIAL FIXED INCOME, NEWARK:
"One of the phrases that's caught the market's eye was the one about several members being confident that a rate rise wouldn't harm housing. If that had instead read 'a few,' or 'a couple,' it would have been easier for the market to digest, along with what the other tentative and dovish comments. But using 'several' allows the market to interpret this as a large swath of the FOMC being fairly insensitive to what investors have felt has been a large rise in rates."
MARY BETH FISHER, HEAD OF U.S. INTEREST RATES STRATEGY, SG CORPORATE & INVESTMENT BANKING, NEW YORK:
"The market was leaning dovish. Everyone was hoping that minutes to be very dovish and there would be more expansion about the Fed's concerns about inflation but you didn't really get that. And you might see some pullback in yields from these levels due to the sell-off after these minutes.
"You could see a bond market setting up with higher yields ahead of tomorrow's jobless claims data. The sell-off will find support with yields heading higher."
TODD SCHOENBERGER, MANAGING PARTNER AT LANDCOLT CAPITAL IN NEW YORK:
"The Fed is creating a bit of drama with some of the language, saying it 'could' be time to taper. That's irresponsible. How can we justify tapering when GDP growth is still so low? It seems the Fed is under immense pressure to begin tapering, rather than doing it for macro reasons. It doesn't seem like the economy is ready for tapering, and this makes me a bit concerned."
JACOB OUBINA, SENIOR U.S. ECONOMIST, RBC CAPITAL MARKETS, NEW YORK:
"I think the one-liner here is anybody that was expecting the minutes to be overtly dovish is probably going to be disappointed. I think given the change that they made to the statement we were expecting to see perhaps a little more discussion on the downside risks to housing given the backup in rates. But overall this is a pretty status quo minutes, and the bottom line is the Fed remains data dependent.
"They continue to highlight that the employment backdrop has improved significantly, and to us that means that they're inclined to start the tapering process over the course of the next few months. We think October is still when they will engage, and this doesn't really alter that timeline.
OMER ESINER, CHIEF MARKET ANALYST COMMONWEALTH FOREIGN EXCHANGE INC IN WASHINGTON DC.:
"The minutes of the July 31 FOMC monetary policy meeting shed little new light on the timing of any change to the central bank's $85 billion monthly bond purchases.
"Perhaps, the minutes are important because of what they did not say to markets. Because the tone of the minutes do not meaningfully reduce the risk of a September taper, they will likely be seen as marginally positive for the dollar, and negative for bonds and stocks. The fact that there were no major surprises in these minutes means the market will focus squarely on what is setting up to be one of the most important jobs reports in recent history on September 6."
(Americas Economics and Markets Desk; +1-646 223-6300)