Fed's Bullard sticks to script, says unwise to keep hiking rates

NEW YORK, Feb 24 (Reuters) - A top Federal Reserve official on Wednesday reiterated his opposition to further interest rate hikes given that U.S. inflation expectations have fallen and threaten the U.S. central bank’s credibility.

“I regard it as unwise to continue a normalization strategy in an environment of declining market-based inflation expectations,” St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said in prepared remarks.

The so-called break-even expected inflation rate in five years’ time has dropped as global markets sold off this year, and investors are now predicting a price measure of less than 1.5 percent. That “represents an erosion of central bank credibility with respect to the inflation target,” Bullard said in remarks for delivery to the Money Marketeers bond traders group here.

Bullard, long a hawkish member of the Fed who has pushed for higher rates, reversed course in a separate speech last week when he raise a red flag about inflation.

The Fed targets 2 percent core inflation, which has been weak for more than three years. Since Bullard’s previous speech, data showed that a key measure of consumer prices jumped by the most in more than four years in January, to 2.2 percent, which could keep the Fed on track to keep tightening policy.

Reporting by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Leslie Adler