New York Federal Reserve Building. Photo: Reuters/Keith Bedford

Federal Reserve officials have signaled that the next rate hike, long-expected to come in September, will have to wait until December, while a plan for balance-sheet reduction could come earlier than previously thought, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The shift would allow time to assess whether a recent inflation slowdown will fade before the next rate hike and gauge the market reaction to the balance-sheet plan. An earlier move on the plan would also avoid launching it at a time of transition to new leadership should Fed chair Janet Yellen not be nominated to a second term.