US Federal Reserve officials may still be fighting a war against inflation, but they nevertheless opened the door at their May meeting to the possibility that interest rates won’t have to rise any further from the current 5 per cent to 5.25 per cent range.

They will now have until June 14 to choose whether to walk through that door, with key data on jobs, inflation, credit conditions and the health of the banking system over the next six weeks informing the decision, public comments from Fed officials shaping the debate, and analysts already looking for clues.

An important first few will come Friday with the release of employment data covering job growth, wages and the unemployment rate for April, and comments on the economy and monetary policy from St Louis Fed President James Bullard and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari at the Economic Club of Minnesota.