Only a few Federal Reserve policymakers thought it would soon be time to "slow somewhat" the pace of the central bank's bond-buying at a meeting last month, while others emphasized patience in deciding when to start to wind down the stimulus program.

Minutes of the US central bank's July 30-31 meeting showed that almost all of the 12 members of the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee agreed a change to the stimulus was not yet appropriate.

Investors are anxiously predicting when the Fed will start to slow its $85 billion in monthly asset purchases.

Policymakers noted that the US unemployment rate - which stood at 7.4% last month - had declined "considerably" since the latest round of bond buying was launched in September, though there was disagreement on the cumulative improvement given, for example, the high number of Americans who had given up the hunt for work.

In the end, the Fed made no formal policy change at last month's meeting, saying in a statement on July 31 that the US economy continues to need support.