Stock exchange-traded funds (ETF) were pressured this week following the release of the Federal Open Market Committee's latest monetary policy meeting minutes from July, with many Federal Reserve officials signaling that they support tapering the central bank's pace of bond purchases later this year.
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In their latest meeting, several policymakers agreed that there has been enough progress made towards the central bank's inflation goal, which would warrant slowing the pace of bond purchases later this year.
"Various participants commented that economic and financial conditions would likely warrant a reduction in coming months," minutes of the FOMC's July 27-28 meeting said. "Several others indicated, however, that a reduction in the pace of asset purchases was more likely to become appropriate early next year."
On the labor market, policymakers saw positive progress towards recovery, but stressed ongoing uncertainty over the near- and medium-term growth due to the ongoing threat of the pandemic.
"Several participants emphasized that employment remained well below its pre-pandemic level and that a robust labor market, supported by a continuation of accomodative monetary policy, would allow further progress toward," the Fed's labor market goals, the minutes said. "Several participants also commented that price increases concentrated in a small number of categories were unlikely to change underlying inflation dynamics sufficiently to overcome the possibility of a persistent downward bias in inflation."
Overall, the minutes showed that most participants "judged that it could be appropriate to start reducing the pace of asset purchases this year," meaning that if inflation pressures continue to weigh on the U.S. economy and the labor market shows more signs of recovery, it is likely the bond repurchasing program will ease this year.
FOMC is set to meet again towards the end of September, with that meeting set to bring clearer guidance on the central bank's monetary policy moving into the end of the year. While July's meeting shows that policymakers have yet to reach a consensus on the timing or pace of tapering asset purchases, it seems that they are likely to come as soon as early next year.