Equities on Wall Street welcomed clarification about Federal Reserve policy makers' plans for further monetary easing to help propel economic growth.

The Fed's policy committee focused "primarily" on buying more longer-term US Treasuries, without being more specific.

The committee also said it would expect to take action "before long".

Policymakers "wanted to consider further the most effective framework for calibrating and communicating any additional steps to provide such stimulus," according to the minutes of the September 21 session, released today in Washington.

For the first time the Fed said it was considering targeting a path for the level of nominal gross domestic product as a way to increase price expectations. Inflation has been running below the Fed's target, which has made deflation a rising concern among some investors.

In early afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 0.21 per cent and the Standard & Poor's 500 edged 0.05 per cent lower, after dropping 0.8 per cent earlier in the session. The Nasdaq gained 0.30 per cent.

"The minutes supported the general notion that the Federal Reserve will be engaged in quantitative easing," David Kovacs, head of quantitative strategies at Turner Investment Partners in Berwyn, Pennsylvania, told Bloomberg News.

US Treasuries also pared losses after the Fed's minutes were released.

The yield on the three-year note rose 3 basis points to 0.55 per cent at 2.06pm in New York, according to BGCantor Market Data. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note was steady at 2.39 per cent, while the yield on 30-year bond gained 1 basis point to 3.76 per cent.

Demand for the US government's sale of US$32 billion in three-year debt today fell short of that at past auctions.

The notes drew a record-low yield of 0.56 per cent. while the bid-to-cover ratio was 2.95, the least since February.

The Dollar Index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, slid 0.16 per cent to 77.32, following the release of the Fed's minutes.

The greenback lost 0.3 per cent to 81.79 yen at 2.12pm in New York, from 82.07 yesterday. The euro was at US$1.3891, compared with US$1.3876.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 declined 0.3 per cent to 262.48 at the 4.30pm close in London. The Fed minutes were released after the close of markets in Europe.

Earlier, European Central Bank Governing Council member Axel Weber said the ECB should end its bond-purchase program and indicated that officials should show how they would withdraw other emergency measures.

"As the risks associated with the Securities Markets Program outweigh its benefits, these securities purchases should now be phased out permanently," Weber said, according to the text of a speech delivered in New York today.

The Fed's latest thoughts come ahead of more big US corporate results with Intel and CSX Corp set to report after the closing bell.