Fed sees foreign weakness as risk to US economy but expects oil price drop to be positive

Federal Reserve policy-makers discussed various risks to the U.S. economy at their December meeting but concluded that the big drop in oil prices was likely to end up boosting growth.

Minutes of the Fed's Dec. 16-17 meeting show that Fed officials believed weakness in the global economy posed some of the biggest downside risks, particularly if it caused turmoil in global financial markets. But the Fed officials believed that overall, the sharp declines in oil prices would be beneficial to the economy.

The minutes showed Fed officials were concerned about over-reaction in markets to changes in their guidance about future rate hikes and decided to declare their view that the central bank intended to be "patient" in moving toward a rate hike.