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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 23:28 GMT
US Fed leaves base rate door open
Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan
Fed boss Alan Greenspan bowed out of the top job after 18 years
The US Federal Reserve's interest rate rise last month has brought borrowing costs close to where they need to be, policymakers believe.

The Fed agreed that future rate moves would be dependent on economic data, minutes of the January meeting released on Tuesday showed.

The January meeting was Alan Greenspan's final day as chairman of the central bank.

It also marked the 14th successive rise in US interest rates.

Fed officials raised US rates by a quarter-percentage point to 4.5%, the latest in a series of rises dating back to June 2004.

Challenges ahead

One of the first challenges facing new chairman Ben Bernanke, whose first day on the job was 1 February, will be to work with his Fed colleagues and decide when to stop lifting rates.

However, current inflation pressures may force yet another rise in the near-term, economists believe.

Mr Bernanke's first interest-rate meeting is on 27 March.

"Although the stance of policy seemed close to where it needed to be given the current outlook, some further policy firming might be needed to keep inflation pressures contained," said the minutes from the Fed's January meeting.

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