As the US Federal Reserve's rate-setting committee prepares to meet next week, analysts are further predicting that rates will be hiked.

Barclays Capital is the latest to join the already-existing economic voices who think that the Federal Reserve's Open Markets Committee

(FOMC) will raise rates to 5.25 - an increase of 0.25 per cent, the FT reports.

Some, including Barclays Capital, predict that the Fed will raise rates to six per cent by the end of the year.

JP Morgan and Credit Suisse are among the financial experts predicting a six per cent peak, but expect this to take place in early 2007.

A spokesman for the bank told the FT: "We have become less convinced that the FOMC will be comfortable keeping rates at 5.5 per cent in August as growth remains strong and core inflation continues to move higher."

Barclays economists said on Thursday that there could be a 50 basis point rate rise in the near future, but said this was likely to take place in August.

Fed funds futures, which measure rate expectations, revealed that it was 80 per cent likely that the FOMC will raise rates by a quarter percentage point in August.