WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) — The Federal Reserve may slow its bond purchases by the end of this year if the economy shows improvement.

Rumors Abound Fed Will Dial Back Easy Money Policies, Markets Are Predictably Terrified

Fed chairman Ben Bernanke. (Getty Images)

But the Fed remains divided over the exact timing of the move.

That’s the message from the minutes of the Fed’s July 30-31 meeting released Wednesday.

A few policymakers said they wanted to assess more economic data before deciding when to scale back the central bank’s $85 billion a month in Treasury and mortgage bond purchases. Others said it “might soon be time” to slow the purchases, which have helped keep long-term rates near record lows.

Since the July meeting, a few Fed officials have suggested the central bank could slow the bond buying in September.

In fact, TheBlaze has long reported that a small but somewhat vocal minority of Fed officials have argued in favor of dialing back the bond-buying program.

Consensus is growing that a decision will be made in September or December.

Fed policymakers did agree they wouldn’t raise the short-term interest rate they control from nearly zero at least until the unemployment rate fell to 6.5 percent. Several members even said they were willing to lower that threshold.

Some policymakers said they were less confident than they were at the June meeting that the economic growth will pick up later this year. But Fed officials generally agreed that the risks of an economic downturn have diminished since the Fed began the bond purchases in September.

Whatever the case, markets are reacting very, very poorly to today’s news. They’re straight terrified the Fed will put an end to its billion dollar easy money policies:

The Dow:

Rumors Abound Fed Will Dial Back Easy Money Policies, Markets Are Predictably TerrifiedThe S&P 500:

Rumors Abound Fed Will Dial Back Easy Money Policies, Markets Are Predictably TerrifiedThe Nasdaq:

Rumors Abound Fed Will Dial Back Easy Money Policies, Markets Are Predictably Terrified

The leftovers:

Rumors Abound Fed Will Dial Back Easy Money Policies, Markets Are Predictably Terrified Rumors Abound Fed Will Dial Back Easy Money Policies, Markets Are Predictably Terrified Rumors Abound Fed Will Dial Back Easy Money Policies, Markets Are Predictably Terrified
Rumors Abound Fed Will Dial Back Easy Money Policies, Markets Are Predictably Terrified Rumors Abound Fed Will Dial Back Easy Money Policies, Markets Are Predictably Terrified Rumors Abound Fed Will Dial Back Easy Money Policies, Markets Are Predictably Terrified
Rumors Abound Fed Will Dial Back Easy Money Policies, Markets Are Predictably Terrified Rumors Abound Fed Will Dial Back Easy Money Policies, Markets Are Predictably Terrified

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter