Federal Reserve officials did not see the conditions for reducing their massive asset-purchase program being met for “some time” at their January policy meeting, a record of the gathering showed.

“With the economy still far from those goals, participants judged that it was likely to take some time for substantial further progress to be achieved,” according to minutes of the Jan. 26-27 meeting, published Wednesday.

U.S. Treasury yields have risen since the beginning of the year amid increased optimism that President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats will authorize more fiscal relief measures, speeding the economy’s recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The brightening outlook has added to investor speculation over when the Fed will begin scaling back its bond-buying program. The central bank is purchasing US$120 billion of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities per month and has said it will continue doing so until the economy has made “substantial further progress” toward full employment and its 2 per cent inflation target.

January data on retail sales, industrial production and producer prices published Wednesday all came in above forecasters’ estimates, underscoring the contribution to the economic recovery from a bipartisan fiscal relief package signed into law in December.

The better-than-expected numbers also highlight momentum in the economy at the start of 2021, despite a post-holiday surge in COVID-19 cases last month.