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    Rates near where needed after Jan. 31 boost-Fed

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    WASHINGTON, Feb 22 (Reuters) Federal Reserve policy-makers felt a 14th straight increase in interest rates on Jan. 31 brought borrowing costs close to where they needed to be and agreed future moves would be data-dependent, minutes of the January meeting released on Tuesday showed.

    ''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 and the risks to price stability and sustainable economic growth roughly in balance,'' the minutes from the Fed's Federal Open Market Committee said.

    The minutes said some officials viewed readings on core inflation and inflation expectations that were ''somewhat'' higher than desired reinforced the idea that further rate hikes might be necessary.

    ''However, all members agreed that the future path for the funds rate would depend increasingly on economic developments and could no longer be prejudged with the previous degree of confidence,'' they said.

    Meeting on Alan Greenspan's final day as chairman of the central bank, Fed officials on Jan. 31 pushed the overnight federal funds rate up by a quarter-percentage point to 4.5 per cent, the latest in a string of hikes dating to June 2004.

    REUTERS SD DS1516

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