Some Fed officials backed rate hike in June, minutes show

Agence France-Presse
Some Fed officials backed rate hike in June, minutes show
Photo shows the exterior view of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

WASHINGTON, United States — Several members of the US Federal Reserve's rate-setting committee supported another interest rate hike in June to tackle high inflation, but ultimately voted for a pause, the Fed announced Wednesday.

The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) voted unanimously last month to pause interest rate hikes after 10 consecutive increases, giving policymakers more time to assess the impact of rate hikes and recent banking stresses on the US economy. 

At the same time, FOMC members forecast that two additional increases to its benchmark lending rate would likely be needed before the end of the year to bring inflation back down. 

Minutes from the meeting published by the Fed on Wednesday show some FOMC members went into the meeting on June 13-14 favoring another quarter percentage-point hike to bring inflation back down towards the committee's long-term target of two percent. 

"Some participants indicated that they favored raising the target range for the federal funds rate 25 basis points at this meeting or that they could have supported such a proposal," the Fed minutes showed. 

Those in favor of another hike "noted that the labor market remained very tight, momentum in economic activity had been stronger than earlier anticipated, and there were few clear signs that inflation was on a path to return to the Committee's 2 percent objective over time," the Fed said. 

In the end, however, all 11 voting members on the FOMC supported holding rates steady. 

'More work to do'

Speaking Wednesday afternoon, New York Fed President and FOMC member John Williams said the committee had "more work to do" to bring down inflation. 

"Do we have more to do in terms of monetary policy? I think the incoming data support that hypothesis," he told a conference in New York. 

Futures traders see a probability of close to 90 percent that the Fed will raise its benchmark lending rate by a quarter percentage-point at its next meeting on July 25-26. 

Fed Chair Jerome Powell has left the door open to consecutive interest rate hikes in the months ahead, if needed, to cool the economy further.

"I wouldn't take, you know, moving to consecutive meetings off the table at all," he told an audience in Portugal last month. 

The minutes published Wednesday showed that Fed economists still expect the United States to enter a "mild recession" later this year. 

But strong recent labor and consumer spending data meant "the possibility of the economy continuing to grow slowly and avoiding a downturn as almost as likely as the mild-recession baseline," the Fed said.

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