INTERVIEW-Fed's Bullard says economy improving but needs to get stronger
NEW YORK, Aug 2 (Reuters) - A top Federal Reserve official said on Friday that the U.S. economy is improving modestly but needs to gather more steam, while inflation remained too low for comfort, underscoring the debate within the central bank over when to scale back stimulus.
"I've been optimistic about the economy and kept projecting that growth is just around the corner, but obviously over the last three quarters growth has average only about 1 percent," St. Louis Fed President James Bullard told Reuters.
"So we need to see some indication that growth is going to pick up in the second half before we can be confident things are improving in the way we need," he said.
When it come to meeting the Fed's growth targets, he said "the arithmetic is getting harder and harder."
Bullard welcomed a slight rise in inflation last month as measured by the core personal expenditures index but said it still remains "quite a bit below" the Fed's 2 percent target.
(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by James Dalgleish)