Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said last month that the central bank may start reducing the pace of bond buying this year and end the purchases around the middle of next year if the economy finally achieves the sustainable growth the Fed has sought since the recession ended in 2009.
Many Fed officials want to see more signs employment is picking up before they’ll begin scaling back $85 billion in monthly bond purchases, according to minutes of policy makers’ June meeting released yesterday.
Policy makers also project inflation will remain at or below their goal. Today’s Labor Department figures on import prices showed scant signs of cost pressures.
The import price index fell 0.2 percent in June after a 0.7 percent decrease. The median forecast of 44 economists in a Bloomberg survey called for no change. Prices rose 0.2 percent over the past 12 months after slumping 1.9 percent.
Excluding fuel, import costs fell 0.3 percent last month, and were down 1 percent from June 2012. Prices of imported auto dropped 0.3 percent from a month earlier, natural gas and food each fell 1.2 percent, and industrial supplies decreased 0.3 percent.
Demand for commodities may be limited as Europe and other global markets continue to struggle. American companies facing overseas competition for manufactured goods have little ability to raise prices.
The import-price index is the first of three monthly price gauges from the Labor Department. Producer prices are due tomorrow and the consumer-price index on July 16.