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UPDATE 1-Fed's Bostic says U.S. inflation, employment on target

Ann Saphir

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SAN DIEGO, Feb 3 (Reuters) - With inflation stable and the U.S. economy close to full employment, the Federal Reserve will be able to keep interest rates where they are for the time being, Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Raphael Bostic said on Monday.

"In general I think both on the inflation and employment side, we are performing pretty much close to target if not right on it, so that's encouraging," Bostic said at a Global Interdependence Center conference in San Diego. "I think that can be sustained for a while, and so in that context, I think our policy stance of stability makes a lot of sense."

The Fed cut rates three times last year to a target range of 1.5% to 1.75%, and most policymakers have signaled it will likely be appropriate to leave rates there through the end of 2020, unless there is a material change in the outlook. By contrast traders are betting the Fed will need to cut rates again by June.

Bostic, one of 17 Fed policymakers who set U.S. interest rates every six weeks, noted that while inflation is missing the Fed's 2% target as measured by the personal consumption expenditures price index, it is at or near target by other measures. The Fed could, he suggested, use a range of measures to judge whether it is meeting its inflation target, not just PCE inflation.

Bostic said he would be open to tweaking the Fed's approach to targeting inflation, including possibly aiming for a range, or an average rate of inflation over time, or perhaps a strategy to target higher inflation for a certain period should inflation come in too low for too long.

The Fed is currently undertaking a review that looks at such questions, which it expects to wrap up mid-year.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler)