Officials: Rate hike expected soon

Washington (AP) - Federal Reserve officials earlier this month discussed the need to raise a key interest rate again "fairly soon," especially if the economy remains strong.

Minutes of the discussions showed that while Fed officials decided to keep a key rate unchanged at their January 31-February 1 meeting, there was a growing concern about what could happen to inflation if the economy out-performed expectations.

"Several" Fed officials expressed worries that there could be a "sizable undershooting" of the Fed's 4.8 percent unemployment goal that could force the Fed to boost rates at a faster pace than financial markets currently expect.

At the moment, economists are not expecting a rate hike until June. But the discussion in the minutes might raise the possibility of a hike as soon as March.

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