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Fed official cautions that central bank has made no decision on a December rate hike

WASHINGTON – A voting member of the Federal Reserve cautions that the Fed has yet to decide when to raise interest rates even though it issued a statement this week that said a rate hike was possible in December.

John Williams, president of the Fed’s San Francisco regional bank, said Friday that he wants to study more economic data in coming weeks before deciding whether the economy is strong enough for the Fed to raise its key short-term rate from a record low, where it’s been for seven years.

Williams said in an interview with The Associated Press that the Fed chose to mention in its policy statement this week that it could decide on a rate hike at its next meeting to avoid surprising investors in case it did raise rates then.

“There was a lot of commentary I heard (after the previous meeting) that the Fed is going to be on hold until next year,” Williams said.

He said the language the Fed used in the statement it issued after its latest policy meeting was meant to put the financial markets on notice that “December is very much a live meeting.”