Federal Reserve is focused on an initial interest rate hike between the first quarter and the middle of next year, with possible changes in its main policy statement as soon as next month, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said on Saturday. “It is reasonable with the improving data to begin to anticipate a change in the basic interest rate policy and, therefore, it is quite a reasonable debate as to whether that ought to be early 2015 or mid-2015 or even later,” Lockhart told Reuters in an interview here. “The debate is real.” Lockhart said he continues to forecast a rate increase in mid-2015, with economic growth hovering around 3 percent, and that he feels it is “still early” to change the central bank’s main policy statement. “Even with good data, and we have had a run of very good data on balance, you still can only draw tentative conclusions,” said Lockhart, who does not presently have a vote on the Fed’s main policy committee.
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