As expected, the Federal Reserve is easing up on quantitative easing.
The Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC), which operates within the Fed, concluded a two-day policy meeting Wednesday afternoon with the announcement that it will trim its monthly asset-purchasing program by $10 billion to bring it down to $25 billion per month. Going forward, the Fed’s monthly bond purchases will be split between $10 billion for mortgage-backed securities and $15 billion in Treasury securities.
The move is not unexpected, as Fed officials have reiterated in recent months that it would continue to taper off the massive buying program, which the central bank has said it will completely halt in October, assuming the economy continues to improve. (On that front, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday morning that the U.S. economy grew more than expected in the second quarter.)
The Fed’s statement did nothing to alter expectations for interest rate hikes to kick off in mid-2015 for the first time since the fiscal crisis. Fed chair Janet Yellen had previously planned to hold off on hikes until late-2015, though some of her more hawkish colleagues at the Fed have pointed to the improving labor market as reason enough to push the hikes up to earlier next year. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1% in June with employers adding 288,000 jobs.
In its statement, the Fed pointed to the improved labor market while noting that inflation “has moved somewhat closer to the Committee’s longer-run objective” of 2%.
After falling ahead of the FOMC meeting wrap-up, stocks improved slightly following the announcement.