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Fed's Fisher to be second policy hawk to retire in March

Richard Fisher, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, speaks on "U.S. Economy and Monetary Policy: Where to From Here?" during at luncheon in Hong Kong April 4, 2014. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

(Reuters) - Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher will retire on March 19, becoming the second policy hawk to leave the U.S. central bank just a few months before most economists expect the Fed to start its first round of interest rate hikes in a decade.

The regional Fed bank's board of directors has hired Heidrick & Struggles to conduct a search for Fisher's replacement, the Dallas Fed said on Thursday. The bank will consider candidates from both inside and outside the Fed, Dallas Fed board chairman Mike Ullman said in a statement.

Fisher, 65, is required by Fed rules to retire by next April. During his nearly 10 years at the Fed, he has used his vote often to dissent against easy monetary policy, including this year.

Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser, who like Fisher has been a sharp critic of Fed policy and has also dissented this year, previously said he will retire on March 1.

Monetary policy hawks typically push for tighter policy and higher interest rates to beat down unwanted inflation; policy doves typically prefer looser policy to help boost employment.

The departures leave a pair of openings at the U.S. central bank as it winds down its bond-buying stimulus and ramps up its discussion of when it should start raising rates, a transition that Plosser and Fisher both want to take place sooner rather than later.

The first rate hike, however, is likely to take place in June at the earliest, based on economists' forecasts and bets in futures markets.

Neither policymaker has said what they plan to do next.

(Reporting by Ann Saphir; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and James Dalgleish)