NEW YORK The Federal Reserve should consider trimming its $600 billion bond purchase program given "pretty good" U.S. economic data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard said on Saturday.
"If the economy is as strong as I think it is then I think it may be reasonable to send a signal to markets that we're going to start withdrawing our stimulus, and I'd start by pulling up a little bit short on the QE2 program," Bullard told reporters in Marseille, France on Saturday, according to Bloomberg News.
Bullard is seen as a centrist on the Fed's policy-setting committee. He does not have a vote on Fed policy this year. Uncertainties remain, including the Japan disaster, Middle East unrest, the U.S. fiscal position and the European sovereign debt crisis, Bullard said.
But, he said, so far, oil prices have not risen enough to derail the U.S. recovery. Oil prices would have to go substantially higher for there to be a "significant and material effect," he said.
"We have to weigh those in the decision" on whether to stop the Fed's purchase program earlier than planned, Bullard said.
Bullard also laid out his preferred exit strategy sequence. He said the Fed should sell assets first, change its pledge to keep interest rates near zero and then raise interest rates, Bullard said, according to the Bloomberg report.
Bullard said last month the Fed may need to reduce the amount of purchases in light of stronger U.S. economic data. The program is scheduled to finish in June.
(Reporting by Kristina Cooke; Editing by Ramya Venugopal)