Federal Reserve hinted on Wednesday that a surprisingly strong jobs market recovery could lead it to raise interest rates earlier than it had been anticipating. At the same time, most Fed officials wanted further evidence before changing their view on when rates should rise, according to the minutes from the central bank's July 29-30 meeting. "Labor market conditions had moved noticeably closer to those viewed as normal in the longer run," the minutes said, adding that policymakers "generally agreed" the job market was healing faster than they had expected. The Fed had said in its policy statement following the July meeting that there was "significant" labor market slack, but the minutes showed many members of its policy-setting panel thought this characterization "might have to change before long."
Bank of America Corp is expected to pay more than $16.5 billion to end investigations into mortgage securities that the bank and its units sold in the run-up to the financial crisis, in a deal that could be announced as early as Thursday, a person familiar with the matter said. An agreement in principle was reached earlier this month after a phone call between the bank's chief executive, Brian Moynihan, and Attorney General Eric Holder. Representatives of the Justice Department and Bank of America declined comment.
The minutes were from the two-day meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee in late July, when the Fed trimmed its monthly bond-buying program by an additional $10 billion. Stocks pared gains immediately after the release of the minutes, but the Dow and the S&P 500 returned to positive territory with a little more than an hour of trading left in the regular session. "The market was absolutely being driven by the Fed. It started out strongly, then it looked like a bit of capitulation before the statement came out, and then we obviously saw a big sigh of relief," said Drew Wilson, an equity analyst at Fenimore Asset Management in Cobleskill, New York. The S&P 500 gained 4.91 points, or 0.25 percent, to finish at 1,986.51.