ATLANTA (Reuters) - Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Dennis Lockhart said on Monday he saw no rush to remove language from the central bank's policy statement that there remains a "considerable time" before the first interest rate increase.
"For my purposes I am not in a rush to drop it," particularly if there is a risk in doing so of suggesting that a rate hike is imminent, Lockhart said.
Though the U.S. economy continues to grow and job growth has been sustained, he said he will watch the behavior of prices in coming months and wants to be confident inflation will rise to the Fed's two percent target before committing to an initial rate increase.
He said he expects that to happen and anticipates the Fed will be able to approve an initial rate increase sometime in the second half of 2015.
"Inflation is the one key element that does not seem to be consistent with what we are seeing in terms of growth and what we are seeing in the labor market," Lockhart said. If inflation "goes completely sideways or begins to indicate a decline, disinflation, then I think it will raise some concerns."
The Fed's policy committee meets next week.
Reporting By Howard Schneider; Editing by Andrea Ricci