UPDATE 1-Yellen likely meant to reflect market's rate hike expectations -Fed official

Fri Mar 21, 2014 3:14pm EDT

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WASHINGTON, March 21 (Reuters) - Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen was likely just repeating the views of private analysts and investors when she said the central bank could raise interest rates six months after ending a bond-buying program, a top policymaker said on Friday.

"On the 'considerable period' being six months, the surveys that I had seen from the private sector had that kind of number penciled in," St Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said during a lunch with journalists. "That wasn't very different from what we had heard from financial markets. So, I just think she's just repeating that."

Bullard's remarks were the first by a Fed policymaker regarding Yellen's statement on the timing of the Fed's first rate hike. Following a two-day policy meeting, the U.S. central bank on Wednesday said the first hike would likely come a considerable time after it ended a bond-buying stimulus program.

In a press conference the same day, Yellen said that a considerable period likely meant six months, a remark that helped to fuel a sell-off in the bond market as investors bet that the Fed was planning to raise interest rates earlier than many had expected. (Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Paul Simao)