Fed's Powell: Rate hike looking appropriate 'fairly soon'

Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell said Thursday an interest rate hike could be appropriate fairly soon, adding that he supports gradual increases if data underpin forecasts for an improving economy.

In prepared remarks from Washington, Powell said he wants to see "significant strengthening" in second-quarter economic growth. He added that he sees the U.S. economy moving toward maximum employment and stable prices, with an oil price rally and weaker dollar helping inflation toward the Fed's 2 percent goal.

"If incoming data continue to support those expectations, I would see it as appropriate to continue to gradually raise the federal funds rate. Depending on the incoming data and the evolving risks, another rate increase may be appropriate fairly soon," he said at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Powell is a voter on the Fed's policymaking committee.

Jerome Powell, Federal Reserver Governor.
Katie Kramer | CNBC
Jerome Powell, Federal Reserver Governor.

His comments follow a string of hawkish remarks from Fed officials that have boosted expectations for rate increases this year. Markets are pricing a 30 percent chance of a hike in June, according to the CME Group.

The probability of an increase rises to 58 percent in July.

The minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee's April meeting showed it will likely hike in June if economic data point to stronger second-quarter growth. Officials will also monitor employment trends and whether inflation moves closer to the central bank's target.

Powell added Thursday that he sees reduced risks to the U.S. from the global economy. However, he said the British referendum on European Union membership in June and building Chinese debt bring some concerns.

Earlier Thursday, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard told reporters he believes markets "read the minutes correctly." Market expectations for a hike spiked after their release.

The Fed's policymaking committee next meets June 14 and 15.