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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. On QE: "A few members remained unsure of the likely effects of the asset purchase program on the economy, but felt that making changes to the program at this time was not appropriate." Members emphasized will "regularly review" QE. Some said "a sufficiently strong recovery could make it appropriate to consider reducing the pace or overall size of the purchase program. However, others pointed out that it was unlikely that the outlook would change by enough to substantiate any adjustments."
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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