Fed meeting minutes offer few clues on timing of QE3 reduction


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.

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Investors are anxiously predicting when the Fed will start to slow its $85 billion in monthly asset purchases.

Policymakers noted that the U.S. unemployment rate - which stood at 7.4 percent last month - had declined "considerably" since the latest round of bond buying was launched in September, though there was disagreement on the cumulative improvement given, for example, the high number of Americans who had given up the hunt for work.

In the end, the Fed made no formal policy change at last month's meeting, saying in a statement on July 31 that the U.S. economy continues to need support.

(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer and Steven C. Johnson; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)