Fed's Lockhart sees low rates for 'quite a while'

Thu Feb 27, 2014 5:15pm EST

Dennis Lockhart, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, takes part in a panel discussion titled ''Twist and Shout: The Limits of U.S. Monetary Policy'' at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California May 1, 2012. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Dennis Lockhart, President, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, takes part in a panel discussion titled ''Twist and Shout: The Limits of U.S. Monetary Policy'' at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California May 1, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Danny Moloshok

(Reuters) - The Federal Reserve will probably keep benchmark interest rates low for "quite a while" even after the U.S. central bank begins to raise them from their current near-zero level, a top Fed official said on Thursday.

Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart told a banking conference he expects the Fed to begin raising rates in mid-2015 but to do so only slowly. Lockhart is a policy centrist, and his views often reflect those at the core of the central bank.

Speaking on the same panel, the hawkish chief of the Kansas City Fed, Esther George, said it could be important to move toward a more normal rate environment "sooner rather than later" in light of financial stability concerns and the need to head off any threat of future inflation.

(Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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