Top officials of the U.S. central bank are balancing an improving job market against weak inflation and problems overseas as they ponder when and how much to raise interest rates.
Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve published the minutes of its rate-setting meeting in late July with the customary delay of several weeks.
Many economists predict that the central bank will raise interest rates in September, the first such hike in more than nine years. Low interest rates were intended to boost the economy during the financial crisis, but may no longer be needed.
The Fed’s job is to seek full employment and stable prices. The unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent during the financial crisis to the current 5.3 percent, which is close to the level considered full employment in the United States.
But Fed officials also expressed concern about weak growth in overseas markets, slow growth in U.S. wages and inflation that is running persistently below the Fed’s goal of a two percent annual rate. However, they also said the economy is “approaching” the point of being able to withstand an interest rate increase.
A new government report early Wednesday showed inflation rose at a slower pace in the U.S. economy in July.
Overall prices rose just 0.1 percent, with prices up a meager two-tenths of a percent over the past year.
Outside the volatile areas of food and energy, so-called "core" prices advanced 1.8 percent for the year ending in July.
Thursday, the Fed will get new data on the job market when the government reports the number of Americans signing up for unemployment compensation.
Some information for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.