Fed's Yellen Is Serious About a Return to Normal Monetary Policy

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The Federal Reserve on Wednesday emphasized its commitment to ending its economic stimulus program, and said it expects the economy to pick up in the second quarter of 2014.

In the release of its April 29-30 minutes, the Fed's policy-making arm said committee members considered options for "normalizing" monetary policy, which likely includes determining when it will raise the benchmark interest rate from near zero and ending unprecedented economic stimulus that has supported the U.S. economy during the recovery.

"Participants generally agreed that starting to consider the options for normalization at this meeting was prudent, as it would help the Committee to make decisions about approaches to policy normalization and to communicate its plans to the public well before the first steps in normalizing policy become appropriate," the Federal Open Market Committee statement said.

While the central bank is on schedule to end its monetary stimulus by the end of the year, investors are eager to determine when Fed Chair Janet Yellen will start to raise the federal funds rate, which has held at zero to 0.25% since late-2008.

Yellen in March triggered volatile market activity when answering a reporters' question about raising the fed funds rate by saying that it would likely happen some six months after the end of quantitative easing.

Yellen has since backed off from that specific language in public speeches, choosing instead to emphasize that the Fed won't raise rates for a "considerable time" once the bank's economic stimulus program ends.

>>WATCH: Fed, Bank of Japan and Chinese Manufacturing Pack Huge Economic Day

>>WATCH: Yellen Sees Economy Improving, Warns of Housing Drag

-- Written by Joe Deaux in New York.

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