Federal Reserve

On the fence about a June rate hike: Dennis Lockhart

Fed's Lockhart: On the fence about June hike

While the Federal Reserve should keep the option open for a rate hike in June, Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said he is "on the fence" about whether that hike should happen next month. 

It comes down to the data, he said in an interview with CNBC's "Closing Bell" from the Hoover Institution's International Monetary Stability Conference.

A continuation of solid employment reports is important, as is an economic growth picture that seems to be more consistent with the jobs numbers, he said. 

"Today we kind of have a disconnect between the growth numbers and the employment numbers, and clearly I also would like to see inflation numbers continue to move in the right direction." 

The April jobs report will be released Friday, and there will be one more report out before the Fed's meeting in mid-June. Lockhart said any number that comes in has to be looked at "very carefully" to see what the underlying story is.

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Also weighing on the central bank is the possibility of a Brexit. British citizens vote on whether to stay in the European Union on June 23.

"It's a big deal, and therefore it's something that I think as a policy-maker I have to pay real close attention to," said Lockhart.

"I think it's possible that as the markets absorb information running up to the Brexit vote, that the markets are volatile and certainly the Brexit vote raises uncertainty. Some of that is short-term, but a lot of it is profound long-term uncertainty about the U.K., about the European Union."

Last month, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to keep its target range for the federal funds rate at 0.25 to 0.5 percent.

Overall, Lockhart is optimistic about the U.S. economy for the remainder of the year. 

"I'm sticking to the view that the remaining three quarters of the year will be much better than the first quarter. Therefore, the first quarter is an anomaly. Either it's statistical noise or it's just similar to the way we've seen first quarters in recent years." 

— CNBC's Jacob Pramuk contributed to this report.