US Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell
US Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell Image Credit: AFP

Federal Reserve officials are leaning toward raising interest rates for the first time in the COVID-19 era at their next policy meeting in mid-March, Chair Jerome Powell said on Wednesday.

Officials are "of a mind" to raise rates at the March 15-16 meeting, Powell said at a news conference following the release of the Fed's latest policy statement, which signalled the Fed is preparing soon to raise interest rates from near zero.

While officials have an "eye" on risks around the world, including the surge in coronavirus infections from the Omicron variant, Powell said policymakers expect any headwinds to be short-lived and for the economy to hold up well.