As central bankers gather, some at Fed make interest rate rise case

Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:04pm EDT
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JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. (Reuters) - As central bankers converge on this mountain resort Thursday for an annual conference on monetary policy, a couple of top Federal Reserve officials took the chance to renew a push for interest-rate hikes, citing improvement in employment and inflation.

"The case is strengthening" for a rate hike, Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan told CNBC television, whose open-air studio here overlooks the craggy peaks of the Grand Teton National Park.

"And you should conclude from that in the not-too-distant future ... I think we're moving toward being able to take another step."

Kansas City Fed President Esther George, whose bank has hosted the conference here since 1978, had an even stronger message.

"I think it's time to move," she told Bloomberg TV.

The Fed raised interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade in December, but has kept them on hold since then on concern that headwinds from abroad and financial market volatility at home could hurt growth.

Recent strong readings on the U.S. labor market, and signs that inflation is finally beginning to pick up, have begun to encourage some policymakers to believe that rates should rise, if not as soon as September's policy meeting then at least before the end of the year.

Investors are awaiting a speech on Friday morning by Fed Chair Janet Yellen for more definitive clues about the timing of an interest rate rise.

But not all Fed policymakers are on board for a rate hike soon.   Continued...

U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks during a news conference following the two-day Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) policy meeting in Washington, DC, U.S. on March 16, 2016.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo