THE US Federal Reserve pressed ahead yesterday with its plan to wind down its bond-buying stimulus and upgraded its assessment of the US economy, while reaffirming it was in no rush to raise interest rates. The central bank cut its monthly asset purchases to $25 billion (R267bn) from $35bn, leaving it on course to shut down the programme before year-end. The Fed reiterated that it was likely to keep rates near zero for a “considerable time” after its bond buying ended and restated that an “accommodative” policy was needed. The Fed has kept overnight rates near zero since December 2008 and has more than quadrupled its balance sheet to $4.4 trillion through a series of bond purchase programmes. But it cited improving labour market conditions and declining unemployment as reasons to wind down the programme and acknowledged rising inflation. The government said the economy grew at a 4 percent annual rate in the second quarter, a figure that probably amplified the debate among Fed policymakers about how soon rates should rise. Some Fed officials have expressed concern that the central bank risks fuelling an unwanted level of inflation. – Reuters