Fed's Fisher: first rate hike 'likely' early 2015

LOS ANGELES, July 16 Wed Jul 16, 2014 12:47pm EDT

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LOS ANGELES, July 16 (Reuters) - The Federal Reserve's policy-setting panel is 'likely' to start raising rates in early 2015, if not sooner, a top Fed official said on Wednesday.

The prediction from Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher went beyond his prepared remarks to the University of Southern California, in which he said the Fed "may well" raise rates in early 2015. Futures traders currently expect a first rate rise in mid-2015.

The rate rises will likely come in "gradual increments," he said.

Fisher is a voting member of the U.S. central bank's policy-setting committee this year.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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