The Federal Reserve will probably keep benchmark interest rates low for "quite a while" even as it begins to raise them from their current level, according to a top Fed official.

Atlanta Fed President Dennis Lockhart said at a conference on the outlook for banking late last week that he expects the U.S central bank to begin raising rates in mid-2015 but to do so slowly.

"I think it's going to be a while before lift-off," Lockhart said. "I think we will be in this low interest rate environment for quite a while."

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