WASHINGTON (Reuters) - St. Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard said on Friday the U.S. economic outlook is improving but rising energy prices could be a concern.
“For now things are looking better for the U.S. economy,” Bullard said in an interview with Business News Network in Vancouver.
Bullard said the Fed’s pledge to keep interest rates near zero until at least late 2014 could change if growth accelerates.
“The date would be pulled up sooner if the economy behaves better than expected, but the date could also be pushed off into the future if the economy was performing even more poorly than current forecasts,” he said.
Higher energy costs are “always a risk for the U.S., which is very energy sensitive,” he said.
Bullard, who is not a voter on the Fed’s policy-setting panel this year, is viewed as a centrist on the spectrum of Fed views regarding how soon to raise rates.
Bullard said he expects a moderate economic expansion in 2012.
The Fed cut rates to near zero in December 2008 and has bought $2.3 trillion in bonds to spur faster growth. The central bank at its January meeting said the sluggish pace of growth means it probably won’t raise rates until the end of next year.
Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Andrew Hay