Federal Reserve officials debated what to say to markets about the pace of coming rate hikes, according to minutes from the October meeting released Wednesday, suggesting that the central bank still believes it is on track to hike rates next year despite low inflation and a weak global economic outlook. By a 9-1 vote, the Fed on Oct. 29 voted to end its asset purchase program and repeated that rates are likely to stay near zero for "a considerable time," adding language that the first move could come sooner if the economy surprises to the upside. Minutes of the Oct. 28-29 meeting show that a couple of Fed officials wanted language about the longer-run federal funds rate to be changed. "Most" supported keeping the language, but a "number...thought it could soon be helpful to clarify the FOMC's likely approach." There was a sharp debate over keeping considerable time, with a "couple" opposed to removing it because it would be seen as signaling a significant stance of policy, resulting in unintended tightening of market conditions.
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