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Stocks Inch Higher, But Gains Inconsistent

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Federal Reserve officials became more upbeat about the economy's prospects in the minutes of last month's meeting, while showing no hint of taking their foot off the monetary accelerator amid vaccine progress and more fiscal relief.

"Participants observed that the pace of the economic recovery had picked up recently and that the economy continued to show resilience in the face of the pandemic," the minutes said. "Participants reaffirmed the Federal Reserve's commitment to using its full range of tools to support the U.S. economy during this challenging time."

Richmond Fed President Thomas Barkin downplayed market fears of inflation in an interview last week, saying the economy remains in the grip of powerful disinflationary forces that should keep price spikes at bay.