Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, was careful to avoid predicting what way the bank was tilting -- but he came close.
"We've gone through eight innings here, 25 basis points an inning," Fisher said. "The next meeting in June is the ninth inning. We'll take a look after that. We may have to go into extra innings in this contest against inflation."
Stock and bond traders watch the Federal Reserve, which sets a key interest rate, closely for clues to the future cost of money. Partly because of such close scrutiny, Fed officials tend to speak in guarded and highly qualified ways.
Since June 2004 the Fed has hiked the so-called federal funds rate, how much U.S. commercial banks charge each other for overnight loans, eight times.