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The dollar fell against most of its major counterparts after U.S. builders began work on more homes at an annualized rate than forecast in January and manufacturing rose, fueling appetite for higher-yielding assets.
U.S. builders broke ground on 596,000 homes at an annualized rate last month, according to Commerce Department data. The median forecast was for a rate of 539,000.
Manufacturing rose 0.3 percent in January, data from the Federal Reserve showed. Overall industrial production unexpectedly declined 0.1 percent as utilities, which had a decline in demand because of milder temperatures, and mining fell, the figures showed.
The Swiss franc briefly gained versus the euro after Israel said two Iranian warships plan to sail through the Suez Canal and called the move a “provocation.” The pound slid against all of its most-traded counterparts after Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said inflation will peak this year and ease in 2012, damping speculation interest rates will rise.
Staff economic ests were revised up and members "expressed greater confidence that the econ recovery would be sustained and would gradually strengthen." Some
said strength in winter data, such as more exports and auto sales, could prove temporary, thus medium term econ to remain restrained. Some worry about energy/commodities as upside inflation risks, but others said pass-thru is small and large resource slack will restrain prices.
FOMC central tendency ests for econ & inflation were rev up, as mkt expected, but at expense of '12 ests. 2011 real GDP now +3.4%-3.9% (vs 3.0%-3.6% in Nov est); 2012 real GDP now +3.5%-4.4% (vs +3.6%-4.5% Nov).
Unemployment rate now 8.8%-9.0% in '11 (vs 8.9%-9.1% Nov est) and 7.6%-8.1% in '12 (vs 7.7%-8.2% Nov), still gradually declining. PCE core inflation seen +1.0%-1.3% in '11 (vs 0.9%-1.6% in Nov est) and +1.0%-1.5% in '12 (vs 1.0%-1.6% Nov), up a tad but little changed overall.
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