U.S. Markets

Fed's Powell says case for a March rate hike 'has come together'

Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell delivers remarks during a conference at the Brookings Institution in Washington August 3, 2015. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The case at the Federal Reserve for an interest rate increase in March has gained support and will be on the table when policymakers meet later this month, Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell said on Thursday.

Several Fed policymakers have made the case this week that the U.S. central bank is drawing closer to another rate hike and investors widely expect the move will come at the March 14-15 policy meeting.

“The case for a rate increase in March has come together,” Powell told U.S. broadcaster CNBC, adding that he felt three rate increases would likely be needed in 2017.

Powell pointed to price data released on Wednesday as supporting the view that the Fed was close to meeting both its inflation and employment mandates.

The data showed consumer prices in January posted their biggest monthly gain in four years and left the 12-month increase in prices at 1.9 percent, just below the Fed’s 2 percent target.

“We’re getting very close to our goal,” Powell said.

Reporting by Jason Lange; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler