Many on FOMC said more progress needed before slowing QE pace

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While the economy is expanding, as home price gains and record stock prices help offset federal budget cuts, employment growth still hasn’t been sufficient for Fed officials to alter their unprecedented monetary easing.

“It’s a moderate recovery and we’re overcoming a record fiscal drag,” Joseph Carson, director of global economic research at New York-based AllianceBernstein LP, which has $453 billion in assets, said before the minutes were released. “We’ve actually had fairly good growth even during the fear about the fiscal cliff” and the U.S. has experienced “very consistent growth in the labor market.”

Payrolls expanded by 165,000 workers last month while revisions added a total of 114,000 jobs to the employment count in February and March, Labor Department data show.

Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William C. Dudley said yesterday he hasn’t decided whether the central bank’s next move should be to increase or decrease bond-buying.

“Because the outlook is uncertain, I cannot be sure which way, up or down, the next change will be,” Dudley said in a speech in New York.

Bullard Comments

St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, who votes on policy this year, said yesterday the central bank should continue the purchases because they’re the best available option for policy makers to boost growth that is slower than expected.

Dudley’s and Bullard’s comments helped lift U.S. stocks to a record. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index advanced 0.2% to close yesterday at an all-time high of 1,669.16, extending this year’s gain to 17%.

Some Fed officials in recent weeks have signaled they favor tapering the quantitative-easing program in the next few months. San Francisco Fed President John Williams said last week that the Fed may want to reduce the pace of its purchases as early as this summer “if all goes as hoped.”

Chicago’s Charles Evans said May 20 that he’d like to see monthly employment growth of 200,000 or more for at least six months before judging the labor market substantially improved. Employers have added an average of 173,000 workers a month over the past year.

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