Fed eyes more asset purchases in 2013

The Federal Reserve is mulling additional asset purchases next year to boost jobs amid a fragile economy, the minutes of a policy meeting released Wednesday showed.

With the current $45 billion a month "Twist" asset adjustment program scheduled to end in December, the minutes suggested that the Fed was ready to go ahead with more outright bond purchases, aimed at pushing long-term interest rates lower.

"A number of participants indicated that additional asset purchases would likely be appropriate next year after the conclusion of the maturity extension program in order to achieve a substantial improvement in the labor market," the document said.

A new program would overlap with the "QE3" open-ended $40 billion a month asset purchase program announced in September.

Participants at the central bank's Federal Open Market Committee on October 23-24 discussed the impact of its longstanding near-zero interest rate policy and other measures aimed at helping the US recovery.

At the meeting, the FOMC stayed the course on policy, but the FOMC minutes revealed divisions over monetary policy, including concerns that low rates will unleash inflation and questions about the effectiveness of massive asset purchases, or quantitative easing.

Participants generally agreed that in determining the appropriate size, pace, and composition of further purchases, "they would need to carefully assess the efficacy of asset purchases in fostering stronger economic activity and consider the potential risks and costs of such purchases."

Participants were meanwhile undecided on whether the Fed should set explicit targets for unemployment and inflation to better indicate when it might raise interest rates.

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