A U.S. interest rate hike is still probably coming in October or December despite some conflicting economic signals, a top Federal Reserve official said on Friday, reinforcing the central bank's message over the last few weeks.
Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart, a well-respected centrist and a voter on the Fed's monetary policy committee this year, said an international slowdown and last month's weak U.S. jobs report show there is "a touch more downside risk" to the U.S. economy.
Therefore, he said, the Fed will need to monitor the strength of the consumer in coming weeks and months to decide whether to go ahead with the first rate hike in nearly a decade.
"The economy remains on a satisfactory track and ... I see a (rate) liftoff decision later this year at the October or December FOMC meetings as likely appropriate," Lockhart said of the policy-making Federal Open Market Committee.
"However the data are giving off varied signals, and there is more ambiguity in the current moment than a few weeks ago," he added. "The situation calls for especially diligent monitoring of incoming data with particular attention to consumer activity."