Fed’s Bostic says more than 3 hikes possible this year, but needs to see how economy responds

Finance

Atlanta Federal Reserve President Raphael Bostic said Wednesday he anticipates hiking interest rates three or four times this year, but he stressed that the central bank isn’t locked into a specific plan.

Speaking on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” the policymaker signaled a view that is less aggressive than the market’s on rates.

“In terms of hikes for the interest rates, right now I have three forecast for this year,” he said. “I’m leaning a little towards four, but we’re going to have to see how the economy responds as we take our first steps through the first part of this year.”

Market pricing current is anticipating at least five and possibly six hikes of 0.25 percentage points each. Bank of America recently forecast seven hikes as the central bank fights inflation running at its highest level in nearly 40 years.

In a recent interview with the Financial Times, Bostic garnered some attention when he said the first move might have to be 0.5 percentage points, or 50 basis points. The Fed has signaled that it likely will enact its first rate hike in more than three years at its March meeting.

Bostic did not commit in his CNBC interview to moving that quickly.

“For me, I’m thinking very much of a 25-basis-point perspective,” he said. “But I want everyone to understand that every option is on the table, and I don’t want people to have the view that we’re locked into a particular trajectory in terms of how our rates have to move over time. We’re really going to let the data show us to what extent a 50 basis point or 25 basis point move is appropriate.”

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