The Federal Reserve will end its massive program of asset purchases in October if the economy stays on track, according to the minutes of its June policy meeting, released Wednesday.
The minutes reveal that Fed officials plan to cut quantitative easing purchases to $35 billion in July, $25 billion in August and September, and if the economy continues its recovery apace, the final $15 billion purchase would follow the Fed’s meeting in October.
June’s minutes offer a clear end-date to the Fed’s bond buying program for the first time, after which investors’ attention will move to when the first interest-rate rise will hit the market.
Some Wall Street firms had generally expected rates to rise in mid-2015, but moved up their predictions to the first quarter of next year after a healthy June jobs report pushed the unemployment rate to 6.1%, a new low.
The Fed had previously indicated that any rise in the interest rate would require unemployment falling below 6.5%
The Fed’s low-interest-rate policies have been a major driver in stock prices since the bull market took off in March 2009. A pull back in those low rates could be a headwind against future market gains.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index both hit all-time highs last week. At the same time, hedge fund short selling interest has dipped to a post-recession low, signaling that investors still aren’t ready to bet against the rising market.