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US Employers Add 175K Jobs, Rate Up to 7.6 Percent
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. economy is adding jobs at a steady pace — enough to show strength in the face of tax increases and government spending cuts if not enough to reduce still-high unemployment.
Employers added 175,000 jobs in May, and the unemployment rate rose to 7.6 percent from 7.5 percent in April, the Labor Department said Friday. The rate rose because more people began looking for work, a healthy sign. About three-quarters found jobs.
The government revised the job figures for the previous two months. April’s gain was lowered to 149,000 from 165,000. March’s was increased slightly to 142,000 from 138,000. The net loss was 12,000 jobs.
Investors appeared pleased by the evidence that job growth remains steady. The Dow Jones industrial average was up nearly 200 points in late-morning trading.
Friday’s job figures provided further evidence of the U.S. economy’s resilience. The housing market is strengthening, auto sales are up and consumer confidence has reached a five-year peak. Stock prices are near record highs, and the budget deficit has shrunk.
The U.S. economy’s relative strength contrasts with Europe, which is gripped by recession, and Asia, where once-explosive economies are now struggling.
Many analysts expect the U.S. economy to strengthen later this year.
‘‘Today’s report has to be encouraging for growth in the second half of the year,’’ said Dan Greenhaus, an analyst at BTIG LLC.
It also eased worries that had arisen after economic reports earlier this week had suggested that the economy might be weakening.
Employers have added an average of 155,000 jobs the past three months. But the May gain almost exactly matched the average increase of the previous 12 months: 172,000.
Analysts said the less-than-robust job growth would likely lead the Federal Reserve to maintain the pace of its monthly bond purchases for at least a few more months. The Fed has said it will keep buying bonds at the same rate until the job market improves substantially. The bond purchases have helped drive down interest rates and boost stock prices.
Stock markets have gyrated in the past two weeks on speculation that the Fed would soon start to taper its $85 billion-a-month in bond buying — a step that could raise rates and cause stock prices to fall.
‘‘I think the Fed will stay on hold,’’ said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight. ‘‘They want to see numbers above 200,000 on payroll jobs on a consistent basis before they start to taper off.’’
Behravesh said he thinks the Fed will maintain its pace of bond buying through this year before scaling it back in 2014.
‘‘Today’s report is perhaps the perfect number for nervous investors,’’ said James Marple, Senior Economist at TD Economics. ‘‘It is strong enough to point to continued economic recovery but not so strong as to bring forward expectations of Fed tapering.’’
Other analysts who have predicted that the Fed would start trimming its bond purchases later this year said they didn’t think Friday’s jobs report would change that timetable.
John Canally, an economist at LPL Financial, blames the Federal Reserve for not specifying how much monthly job growth it wants to see before it scales back its bond buying.
‘‘They have not been transparent enough,’’ Canally said. ‘‘That is what has unhinged markets.’’
Some signs in the report suggested that the spending cuts and weaker global growth are weighing on the job market. Manufacturers cut 8,000 jobs, and the federal government shed 14,000. Both were the third straight month of cuts for those industries.
The number of temporary jobs rose about 26,000, the second straight month of strong gains. That suggests that employers are responding to more demand but aren’t confident enough to hire permanent workers. Many temporary employees work in manufacturing, which cut permanent jobs.
But industries that rely directly on consumer spending hired at a healthy pace — a sign of confidence that consumers will keep spending. Retailers added 28,000 jobs. Restaurants and hotels added 33,000.
Average hourly wages ticked up just a penny in May, to $23.89. That was because much of the job growth was in lower-paying industries.
But mild inflation is boosting American’s purchasing power. Over the past 12 months, hourly wages have risen 2 percent. Inflation has increased just 1.1 percent in that time.
The economy grew at a solid annual rate of 2.4 percent in the first three months of the year. Consumer spending rose at the fastest pace in more than two years. But economists worry that the steep government spending cuts and higher Social Security taxes might be slowing growth in the April-June quarter to an annual rate of 2 percent or less.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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Last Update on October 30, 2014 07:33 GMT
ECONOMY-THE DAY AHEAD
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Labor Department will report today on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. Economists forecast that weekly applications declined 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 281,000.
Also today, the Commerce Department will release third-quarter gross domestic product figures. Many economists predict that overall growth of the economy, as measured by the gross domestic product, reached a healthy 3 percent annual rate in the July-September quarter, according to a survey by data firm FactSet.
Freddie Mac will report on average mortgage rates for this week. Last week, the average for the 30-year loan slid to 3.92 percent.
There are four major companies that will report earnings today.
Altria Group and Mastercard will report quarterly financial results before the market opens.
Starbucks and LinkedIn Corp. will report quarterly earnings after the closing bell.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- Samsung Electronics Co. says its third-quarter income has plunged 49 percent to the lowest level in nearly three years as its handset business slows down.
Samsung says its net income for the July-September quarter was 4.2 trillion won ($4 billion), a sharp decline from 8.2 trillion won a year earlier. The income was the lowest since 2012 but above market expectations. Analysts polled by Factset expected 3.7 trillion won income.
Sales fell 20 percent to 47.4 trillion won while operating income shrank 60 percent to 4.1 trillion won.
Samsung warned earlier this month that its handset profit declined despite a marginal shipment increase. Analysts said the Galaxy S5 smartphone launched in April did not sell well while many consumers held off upgrading their phones, instead waiting for new iPhones.
BEIJING (AP) -- China's Cabinet says it will ease restrictions on credit card processing in a move that might help to resolve a lengthy dispute with the United States over access for Visa, Mastercard and other foreign competitors.
A Cabinet announcement said "all qualified domestic and overseas enterprises" will be allowed to apply to set up credit card clearing operations. It gave no details of what qualifications would be required for a foreign competitor to be approved.
Beijing's restrictions have given a near-monopoly on credit card processing to a state-owned entity, UnionPay.
The World Trade Organization ruled two years ago the restrictions treated foreign competitors unfairly. The government said it would review the decision but did little to increase market access.
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton received 116 million shares of Facebook stock currently worth nearly $9 billion when they sold their mobile messaging service to the social networking leader earlier this month.
The breakdown of the big winners in Facebook Inc.'s $22 billion acquisition emerged Wednesday in a regulatory filing.
Koum, a Ukraine immigrant who was once living on welfare, reaped the biggest jackpot with 76.4 million Facebook shares now worth $5.8 billion. That makes him Facebook's fourth largest stockholder behind company CEO Mark Zuckerberg and two mutual funds, Fidelity Management and Vanguard.
Acton, who worked with Koum when they were both Yahoo Inc. engineers, owns 39.7 million Facebook shares worth $3 billion.
More than 45 other WhatsApp current and former employees also received Facebook stock.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- For-profit colleges that don't produce graduates capable of paying off their student loans could soon face the wrath of the federal government.
Schools with career-oriented programs that fail to comply with the new rule being announced today by the Obama administration stand to lose access to federal student-aid programs.
To meet these "gainful employment" standards, a program will have to show that the estimated annual loan payment of a typical graduate doesn't exceed 20 percent of discretionary income, or 8 percent of total earnings.
The Education Department estimates that about 1,400 programs serving 840,000 students won't pass. Nearly all of these programs are offered by for-profit schools.
SUPREME COURT-HEALTH OVERHAUL-SUBSIDIES
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Supreme Court justices have their first chance this week to decide whether they have the appetite for another major fight over President Barack Obama's health care law.
Some of the same players who mounted the first failed effort to kill the law altogether now want the justices to rule that subsidies that help millions of low- and middle-income people afford their premiums under the law are illegal.
The challengers are appealing a unanimous ruling of a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, that upheld Internal Revenue Service regulations that allow health-insurance tax credits under the Affordable Care Act for consumers in all 50 states. The appeal is on the agenda for the justices' private conference on Friday, and word of their action could come as early as Monday.
DETROIT (AP) -- The U.S. government's auto safety agency, responding to criticism of its slow response to safety issues, has told the manufacturer of millions of potentially faulty air bags to make replacement parts faster and do more testing to find the cause of the problem.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent letters Wednesday to Japanese air bag maker Takata Corp. and 10 automakers seeking information in a widening air bag recall that now covers almost 8 million U.S. vehicles.
The vehicles are equipped with Takata air bags that can potentially inflate with too much force, blowing apart metal canisters and sending shards flying at drivers and passengers. Safety advocates say four people have died due to the problem.
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