U.S. adds 150,000 jobs in October, less than expected By

© Reuters. — U.S. job growth slowed sharply in October, potentially reinforcing expectations that the Federal Reserve could suspend any further interest rate hikes this year.

The closely watched study from the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that employers in the world’s largest economy added 150,000 jobs in the month, down from September’s revised figure of 297,000. Economists had expected a figure of 180,000.

The rate also stood at 3.9%, up from 3.8% the previous month, while increasing 0.2% month over month in October, following a 0.3% gain in september.

Fed officials will likely watch the employment figures closely, as they could provide insight into whether the U.S. central bank’s unprecedented monetary policy tightening is leading to a slowdown in economic activity.

Following a two-day meeting earlier this week, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to keep the federal funds rate at a target of 5.25% to 5.50%. This range, which was near zero in March last year, is at its highest level in more than two decades.

However, recent data has highlighted the continued strength of the US economy. grew faster than expected in the 12 months to September, while in the third quarter it also beat estimates.

Speaking at a news conference Wednesday after the decision, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell left open the possibility of further policy tightening but stressed that officials would act cautiously in response to a multitude of uncertainties facing the American economy.

Markets are already widely betting that the Fed will choose to keep borrowing costs steady at its next meeting in December, with the debate now turning to how long it will keep rates at their current high levels.

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