The Federal Reserve has been surprised by how quickly the U.S. "Labor market conditions had moved noticeably closer to those viewed as normal in the longer run," according to the minutes of the central bank's July 29-30 meeting, which were released on Wednesday. Policymakers "generally agreed" that improvements in the labor market over the last year had been "greater than expected," according to the minutes. The Fed had said in its policy statement following the meetings that there was "significant" slack in the labor market, but the minutes showed many members of the Fed's policy-setting committee thought this characterization "might have to change before long." They also showed officials had largely agreed on many elements of a framework for raising interest rates, with almost all policymakers agreeing it would be appropriate to retain the overnight federal funds rate as their key target.
Violence erupted in an Ebola quarantine zone in Liberia's capital Wednesday as authorities struggled to contain the deadly disease, while new suspected cases in Asia sparked fears of it spreading from Africa. The crackdown in Liberia comes as authorities around the world are scrambling to stem the worst-ever outbreak of Ebola, which has killed more than 1,200 people across west Africa this year. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf quarantined West Point and Dolo Town, to the east of the capital, and imposed a night-time curfew as part of new drastic measures to fight the disease. Residents of West Point, where club-wielding youths stormed an Ebola medical facility on Saturday, reacted with fury to the crackdown, hurling stones and shouting at the security forces.