Feb 25 U.S. economic growth could surpass
expectations this year, but an anemic labor market requires
ongoing support from monetary policy, a top Federal Reserve
official said on Monday.
Dennis Lockhart, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of
Atlanta, cited strength in sectors such as housing, autos, and
energy production and exploration as factors that could push the
U.S. economy to grow at a rate beyond his current forecast for a
range between 2 percent and 2.5 percent.
"If momentum continues and some of the potholes out there
are avoided, particularly a political crisis around fiscal
decisions, growth could accelerate," Lockhart said in remarks
prepared for delivery to a conference at the University of
Still, Lockhart said current growth rates were not enough to
speed up the drop in unemployment, and he therefore suggested
the U.S. central bank will have to maintain its current
bond-buying stimulus for much of this year.
"Continuing the asset purchase program to support the
recovery and to improve employment conditions remains
appropriate for now," he said. "And given the outlook and
associated risks, I am comfortable with sticking with the
current approach at least into the second half of the year."