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WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Recent market turbulence and signs of global economic weakness haven’t yet dimmed U.S. economic forecasts and won’t likely change the Fed’s policy path unless they do, Boston Federal Reserve Bank President Eric Rosengren said on Friday.
“So far, the economic data has not shifted enough to think the overall forecast would be dramatically different,” Rosengren said in an interview with CNBC ahead of a conference at the Boston Fed.
It was unlikely economic data would change enough for the Fed to shift gears and maintain or expand its bond-buying program when the main policy committee meets later this month, he said.
“I don’t expect that we’ll need to. I certainly hope and don’t expect that will be the case. But I don’t rule anything out,” Rosengren said.
The Fed is expected to end its bond-buying program later this month. However St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Thursday the recent market sell-off might warrant delaying that decision to ensure that no broader problems were developing in the economy.
Fed officials over the past week have pointed to a number of issues recently that have clouded a decision over how soon to raise interest rates for the first time in eight years - from a developing global slowdown to a slowing of the U.S. inflation outlook.
But none have said outright that the recent turbulence has shifted their economic forecast substantially, or changed their individual expectation about when interest rates should begin to rise from their near-zero level.
Rosengren said the U.S. central bank was concerned about the European economy in particular. But he said it was not clear whether a recent sell-off in U.S. asset markets portended larger problems, or merely reflected a readjustment by investors to the fact that growth in some parts of the world will be even weaker than expected.
“Just a couple of months ago we were talking about how little turbulence there was. It is going to take us a little time to process fully what is the reason,” for the recent market slide, Rosengren said. “It is a little too soon to make a judgment.”
He said the recent climb in the value of the dollar and the drop in oil prices will likely slow U.S. inflation, and could push back the Fed’s first interest rate hike.
But he said he has not changed his underlying expectation that rates would need to rise in the middle of next year. (Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Bernadette Baum)