UPDATE 1-Global downturn spurred Fed to consider changing rate path -minutes
* Fed policymakers still expect to hike rates in 2016
* Central bank closely monitoring oil, stock markets
* Concerned about China, emerging markets (Adds detail on Fed discussion of market movements)
By Jason Lange and Lindsay Dunsmuir
WASHINGTON, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Federal Reserve policymakers worried last month that a global slowdown and financial market selloff could hurt the U.S. economy and considered changing the central bank's planned interest rate hike path for 2016.
Although most of the policymakers still expected to raise rates this year and even discussed a hike at the Jan. 26-27 policy meeting, they were divided over how to interpret the financial market volatility, according to the minutes from the meeting released on Wednesday.
That suggested the Fed was backing away from the four rate hikes that were signaled for this year in December, when it hiked rates for the first time in nearly a decade.
The policymakers discussed "altering their earlier views of the appropriate path for the target range for the federal funds rate," but most judged it "premature" to make big changes to their outlook, according to the minutes.
They added that they would closely monitor global economic developments as well as oil and stock prices. Continued...