The market is ready for the Federal Reserve to announce plans to start cutting back on, or tapering, its massive bond purchase program at its next meeting in November. And the Fed is already giving investors clues about when the tapering might end.
According to minutes of the Fed's last meeting, released Wednesday afternoon, central bankers suggested in September that "provided that the economic recovery remained broadly on track, a gradual tapering process that concluded around the middle of next year would likely be appropriate."
Based on surveys, the Fed added, many market participants "viewed December as the most likely timing of the first reduction in the net pace of purchases." And it added that "median expectations for the pace of net purchases were consistent with a gradual tapering of net purchases being completed in July of next year, about one to two months earlier than in the previous surveys."
Once the tapering is done, the Fed may turn its attention to eventually raising short-term rates, which have sat at zero since March 2020. But investors don't expect a rate hike until late 2022 at the earliest.