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Economy to grow at 5.4% rate in first quarter

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The economy is on track to put up blockbuster growth numbers in the first quarter, according to the latest forecast from the Atlanta Fed.

GDP is expected to surge 5.4 percent to start 2018, the central bank branch estimated in its latest rolling look at how the economy is progressing.

If the forecast holds, it would be the best quarter since the Great Recession ended in 2009. The previous highest was third quarter of 2014, which hit 5.2 percent.

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Consumer prices jump much more than forecast, sparking inflation fears in some

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U.S. consumer prices rose considerably more than expected in January, fueling fears that inflation is about to turn dangerously higher.

The Consumer Price Index rose 0.5 percent last month against projections of a 0.3 percent increase, the Labor Department reported Wednesday. Excluding volatile food and energy prices, the index was up 0.3 percent against estimates of 0.2 percent.

The report indicated that price pressures were “broad-based,” with rises in gasoline, shelter, clothing, medical care and food.

Markets reacted sharply to the news. The Dow opened more than 100 points lower, but reversed those losses after the first half-hour of trading. Government bond yields also turned higher, with the benchmark 10-year note most recently trading near 2.88 percent, a gain of about 3.8 basis points.

Investors also began to price in the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at least three times this year.

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