WASHINGTON — Federal Reserve officials at their September meeting worried about an economic slowdown in China and its potential to decelerate U.S. growth and keep U.S. inflation persistently low.
Minutes of the Sept. 16-17 discussions showed the central bank believed the time for the first Fed rate increase in nine years "might be near."
But policymakers decided that it would be "prudent to wait" for evidence that the economy had not deteriorated and that inflation would gradually move back toward the Fed's 2 percent annual target. Some members also expressed concerns that a premature rate hike could harm the central bank's credibility.
It voted to leave its key rate at a record low near zero, but officials have indicated that a rate hike before year's end is still possible.