Richmond Federal Reserve President Jeffrey Lacker was quoted on Thursday as saying the U.S. economy was stabilizing after a painful recession and the shattered housing market will no longer be a drag on economic activity.

I think the economy is leveling out, Lacker said in an interview with the Danville Register & Bee newspaper. I think there is reason for hope.

Lacker said that the housing market had picked up about five months ago and would no longer be a drag on economic growth, according to the newspaper, which did not provide a direct quote.

Exports may be picking up and the rate of job loss is slowing, Lacker said. Bank credit tightening seems to have finished and will ease as the job market rebounds, he added.

It's a time of opportunity, even for people experiencing hard times because of the labor market, Lacker said.

Lacker said consumer spending had stopped falling and remained flat.

On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said the U.S. economy is in the early stages of a recovery, but it is too early to start considering hiking interest rates.