The Federal Reserve released the minutes of its March 19-20 meeting at 9 a.m. EDT Wednesday, rather than its customary 2 p.m. According to the Fed, the minutes were released early because they were inadvertently sent to about 100 congressional staffers and trade lobbyists Tuesday afternoon.
(READ MORE: Meet The Fed Employee Who Leaked The FOMC Minutes)
If you are still confused, CNN has the full story:
A Fed spokesman told CNNMoney the mistake was "entirely accidental," and it was a "human error," not a technological one. The roughly 100 individuals on the list were mostly congressional employees and employees of trade organizations. They received the minutes shortly after 2 p.m. on Tuesday. After discovering the error this morning, the Federal Reserve decided to release the minutes to the broader public at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
For those who are wondering:
— zerohedge (@zerohedge) April 10, 2013
The minutes of the latest Federal Open Markets Committee meeting reflect the same debate that’s been going on within the Fed for months now. Policymakers remain divided over how long they should keep buying bonds.
According to the minutes, "a few participants" wanted to stop quantitative easing, or QE, almost immediately. "A few others" were worried about rising risks and wanted at least to reduce the amount the Fed is buying from the current $85 billion per month.
Several others thought that if labor conditions improve as expected, the Fed could slow purchases “later in the year and stop them by year-end.”
Two FOMC members indicated that the bond purchases might well continue at the current pace at least through the end of the year.
The minutes are from a meeting prior to the April 5 government jobs report, which showed U.S. employers added a paltry 88,000 jobs in March – the smallest gain in nine months and less than half of the gain expected.
“Obviously, the weakness of employment growth in March, if it proves to be the start of a weaker trend rather than a blip, would disrupt that timetable,” Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist at Capital Economics, wrote in a research note. “But assuming employment growth rebounds, as we think it will, that timetable still looks valid.”
Ashworth thinks the latest Fed minutes support his view that the pace of its QE program will be slowed in the second half of this year, with the open-ended asset purchases ending completely in early 2014.
“All things considered, the anticipated slowing of QE might be a bit quicker than markets had fully appreciated, but everything still hinges on the performance of the economy,” Ashworth said.
Joining the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEXDJX: .DJI) in uncharted territory, the benchmark S&P 500 (INDEXSP: .INX) climbed Tuesday past the record intra-day high of 1,576.09 it logged in October 2007 as traders responded to generally dovish Fed minutes and upbeat data from China.
According to CNN, at this point, it's not clear whether any trading took placed based on the early release, but the Federal Reserve Board's Inspector General will conduct an initial investigation of the error. "We will be working with market regulators, the SEC and CFTC to insure they have the information they need to evaluate the incident," a Fed spokesman told CNN.
— Annalyn Kurtz (@AnnalynKurtz) April 10, 2013