Fed Minutes Show Reluctance To Raise Interest Rates Just Yet

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The Federal Reserve was in no hurry to signal a possible interest rate hike in January, according to the minutes of the Fed's most recent policy meeting.

However, that meeting took place before January's exceptionally strong jobs report was available, and a number of policy makers have since indicated a willingness to raise rates in June.

The Fed said information reviewed for the January 27-28 meeting showed that economic activity expanded at a solid pace over the second half of 2014, and that labor market conditions had again improved in recent months.

Even so, members agreed to continue to include language indicating that the Fed can "be patient" in beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy, particularly given the dramatic drop in energy prices and low inflation.

Dropping language that Fed officials will be patient might cause "undesirably tight" financial conditions, some policy makers feared.

A number of officials argued in favor of keeping rates at zero "for a longer time," and "many" on the Fed said a premature rate hike would harm the recovery.

Because the economic outlook may have shifted dramatically due to January's blockbuster jobs report, some market watchers will downplay today's Fed minutes, waiting instead for Congressional testimony from Chairman Janet Yellen later in February.

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