There could be two rate hikes in 2016 if data continue to be favorable but the timing of both won't prove to be crucial, Charles Evans, the Chicago Federal Reserve president, told CNBC.
"Two rate hikes in 2016, that's my own call for that, if the data continue to be in line with my outlook, that's a slow and gradual increase this year," said Evans, who is an alternate member of the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) and votes on decisions when a full-time committee member is unable to.
"Timing's not really that important, you mentioned possibly two summer hikes, that would be a little bit more than I'd say is … priced in to the dots certainly and the market expectations," Evans said in an interview Thursday which was aired on Friday.
"Timing's not really that critical for my viewpoint, as long as by the end of this year we're at just a little under 1 percent," Evans added.
"I think that's given us enough time to … assess how the U.S. economy has gone, the global influences and whether or not inflation is more likely to pick up in a confident fashion towards 2 percent. That would position us well for the next year," he said.
Market participants are eagerly anticipating the next rate hike from the central bank after it approved a quarter-point increase in its target funds rate back in December. This was the first move by the bank after seven years of accommodative monetary policy in U.S. history, following the financial crash of 2008.
Investors have had to rethink their expectations for the next move with a slew of Fed speakers recently talking up the prospect of a move this summer. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said last that Friday an interest rate hike is "probably" appropriate in the coming months if economic data improve.
"It's appropriate, and I've said this in the past, I think for the Fed to gradually and cautiously increase our overnight interest rate over time and probably in the coming months, such a move would be appropriate," she said in response to a question at Harvard's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.
The CME Group FedWatch probability for a June rate hike rose after Yellen's speech on Friday and is now highlighting a 21 percent chance of a move at the Fed's June 15 meeting.