U.S. Federal Reserve officials discussed providing more guidance on their bond buying strategy during their Nov. 4-5 policy meeting.
“Many participants judged that the Committee might want to enhance its guidance for asset purchases fairly soon,” according to meeting minutes published Wednesday by the Fed in Washington.
The Fed cut its benchmark interest rate to nearly zero in March at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and ramped up crisis-era bond-buying programs to pump liquidity into the financial system and keep a lid on longer-term interest rates. The central bank is currently buying U.S. Treasury and mortgage-backed securities at a combined pace of about US$120 billion per month, with purchases spread out evenly across maturities.
The resurgence of the pandemic in the U.S. in recent weeks, alongside reduced odds of another large fiscal relief package due to U.S. election results that may leave control of the Senate in Republican hands, have weighed on the economic outlook and raised expectations that the Fed will take further action to support the economy.
Data published Wednesday by the Labor Department showed a growing number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance over the last two weeks while a separate Commerce Department report revealed a drop in household income last month, underscoring the tenuous position of the economy ahead of the winter season.