The Federal Open Market Committee's decision to reaffirm the zero-to-0.25% target range for the federal funds rate at its April 28-29 meeting was based on weakening economic data, moving the path to higher rates further into the future, said meeting minutes released Wednesday.
Those minutes also showed market participants surveyed by the Federal Reserve in April said September's meeting would be “the most likely time for the first increase in the target range for the federal funds rate.”
During the previous meeting in March, surveyed participants had predicted June or September; the minutes for the April meeting said “probabilities attached to scenarios in which policy firming did not begin until after the July 2015 meeting were higher” than the previous meeting.
FOMC staff said in the minutes that the “expected policy rate path implied by financial market quotes shifted down further, in part because U.S. economic data were weaker, on net, than anticipated.”
Staff also noted that consumer price inflation continued to run below its longer-run objective of 2%, restrained in part by energy price declines, and while the unemployment rate stayed at 5.5% in March, “the labor force participation rate edged down, and the employment-to-population rate edged down.”