Fed's Bostic not ruling out half percentage point hike in March

An eagle tops the U.S. Federal Reserve building's facade in Washington, July 31, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Feb 28 (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Reserve could need to raise interest rates by a half percentage point at its next meeting on March 15 and 16 if economic data between now and then shows high inflation persisting, Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Raphael Bostic said on Monday.

"Today as we speak I am still in favor of a 25-basis-point move at the March meeting but things are changing on a weekly basis ... one data point I am looking at in particular is month-to-month change in inflation," Bostic said during a virtual event hosted by Harvard University. "If that continues to persist at elevated levels or even moves in the other direction, then I'm really going to have to look at a 50-basis-point move for March and we'll just have to see how that plays out."

Last week, Fed policymakers largely signaled a preference for a quarter-percentage-point interest rate rise when it begins its tightening cycle at its next meeting, and investors slashed bets on a bigger March following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. read more

Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir; Editing by Franklin Paul and Jonathan Oatis

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