WASHINGTON - Federal Reserve policymakers expressed growing concerns at their meeting last month about potential threats to the U.S. economy, including turbulence in financial markets, plunging oil prices and slowing growth in China and other emerging markets.
Minutes of their discussions show Fed officials acknowledging that the developments made it difficult to forecast growth and inflation prospects. As a result, they decided that the prudent approach was to defer a hike in interest rates.
While Fed officials continued to express confidence in the strengthening labor market, they were less bullish on other parts of the economy such as manufacturing.
The Fed left its key interest rate in a range of 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent in January after hiking it by a quarter-point in December.