Federal Reserve officials were cautiously optimistic about the U.S. economic recovery at the central bank's April meeting, with some officials signaling they'd be open to discussing scaling back the central bank's massive bond purchases "at some point."
"A number of participants suggested that if the economy continued to make rapid progress toward the Committee's goals, it might be appropriate at some point in upcoming meetings to begin discussing a plan for adjusting the pace of asset purchases," according to minutes from the April 27-28 Federal Open Market Committee meeting published Wednesday.
"Various participants noted that it would likely be some time until the economy had made substantial further progress toward the Committee's maximum-employment and price-stability goals," the minutes said.
Officials held interest rates near zero at the meeting and pledged to continue buying $80 billion in Treasuries and $40 billion in mortgage-backed securities every month until "substantial further progress" had been made on their employment and inflation goals.
U.S. Treasuries declined on heavy futures volumes after the minutes were published, as investors digested the news that there was a group of officials open to talking about tapering bond buying. U.S. stocks edged lower.
U.S. economy added only 266,000 jobs in April, well below forecast
The U.S. labor market posted strong gains in March, the most recent month for which Fed officials had data at the April meeting. Policymakers have since noted they'd need to see continued strength to indicate that the economy was on its way to meeting the Fed's test to scale back bond buying.
The recovery picture was muddled by a disappointing April jobs report, which came after the Fed's meeting. Policymakers will have that report, plus the one for May, at their next meeting in June.
Fears of higher inflation have unsettled some investors in recent weeks amid rising commodity prices, while Fed critics argue that its ultra-easy policies, combined with massive U.S. fiscal stimulus, risk overheating the economy.