The Federal Reserve was concerned about international risks to the US economy but saw no evidence of wage inflation, according to the minutes of the last meeting published Wednesday.
"Many participants regarded the international situation as an important source of downside risks to domestic real activity and employment," said the minutes of the December 16-17 meeting, as officials mulled when to raise interest rates.
The potential for a negative spillover effect would rise "particularly if declines in oil prices and the persistence of weak economic growth abroad had a substantial negative effect on global financial markets," the minutes said, "or if foreign policy responses were insufficient."
The meeting of the Fed's policy arm, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), came amid a plunge in oil prices since June that has deepened further, more than halving the value of crude oil to below $50 a barrel currently.
The sharp fall in oil has roiled financial markets, especially in the first trading days of the year, as investors worry about weaker demand in a slowing economy teamed with abundant supplies.
The FOMC, in considering when to raise rates that have been pegged to near zero for six years to support the economy's recovery from deep recession, saw in December a potential boon from dropping oil prices.
A few participants said the effect was likely to be positive on overseas employment and economic growth.
For the US economy, several participants expected slower economic growth abroad to curb the US economy, mainly through lower net exports.
"But the net effect of lower oil prices on US economic activity was anticipated to be positive."
The policymakers saw "broad-based improvement" in the labor market since their October 28-29 meeting, with solid gains in job growth, a small reduction in the unemployment rate and increased hiring.
But despite the labor gains and the economy growing at a moderate pace, "most participants saw no clear evidence of a broad-based acceleration in wages."
According to the minutes, "most participants" agreed to adding language in the FOMC statement about being patient in deciding to raise interest rates, expected in mid-2015.
"Most participants thought the reference to patience indicated that the Committee was unlikely to begin the normalization process for at least the next couple of meetings."