04/08/2015 14:07 EDT | Updated 06/08/2015 01:12 EDT

Fed minutes: June, July or later? Officials in March split widely on timing of rate hike

WASHINGTON - Fed officials disagreed widely last month on when they might begin lifting interest rates from record lows.Minutes of the March 17-18 meeting reveal that several policymakers predicted a rate hike in June, while others concerned about low inflation didn't think a rate hike would be warranted until later this year. Still others said the economy wouldn't be strong enough for an increase until 2016.The Fed's benchmark interest rate has been near zero since December 2008.In the statement the Fed issued after its meeting, it opened the door to a rate increase this year by no longer saying it will be "patient" in starting to raise its benchmark rate. The minutes show that policymakers nearly unanimously agreed on the wording change.