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Some observers are skeptical, however, that the central bank can do much more to prod the economy to grow faster.

While the Fed came through with an impressive display of force, it “is unlikely to have any perceptible impact on the labor market and the U.S. economy in general,” said Harm Bandholz, an economist at Unicredit Markets.

“The much bigger issue right now is the fiscal cliff, which adds to the already high uncertainty about the economic outlook. As a result, businesses are delaying investment expenditures and are more cautious about hiring.”

Michael P. Lebowitz, an analyst at Absolute Investment Management, said he was “shocked” by the Fed’s decision and said that the rise in oil, gold and other commodities is signaling concerns about an uptick in inflation as the Fed prints money to purchase more bonds.

“Our biggest concern is that increases in money supply always lead to inflation,” he said. “This is detrimental to the lower and middle class, as well as those in emerging and developing countries who spend a large portion of their income on food and energy.”