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U.S. adds 150,000 jobs in October, less than expected -- U.S. job growth slowed sharply in October, possibly boosting expectations that the Federal Reserve may hold off on any further interest rate hikes this year. The closely-watched nonfarm payrolls report from the Labor Department's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) showed that employers in the world's largest economy added 150,000 jobs during the month, easing from a downwardly revised figure of 297,000 in September. Economists had expected a reading of 180,000. The August total was also revised lower by 62,000, from 227,000 to 165,000. Job gains occurred in health care, government and social assistance, helping offset a decline in the manufacturing sector that was due in part to a series of strikes by auto workers, the BLS said in a statement. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate came in at 3.9%, up from 3.8% in the prior month, and average hourly earnings increased by 0.2% month-on-month in October, following a 0.3% gain in September. Fed officials will likely be monitoring the job numbers carefully, as they may provide insight into whether the U.S. central bank's unprecedented run of policy tightening is causing economic activity to cool. "[A] good jobs report from [the] Fed's point of view," wrote Kathy Jones, Charles Schwab (NYSE:SCHW) Chief Fixed Income Strategist, on X, formerly known as Twitter. "Nonfarm payrolls comes in a bit light, downward revisions to previous 2 months and wage growth on the low end. Good for bond market." Benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields, which typically move inversely to prices, fell by more than 10 basis points on the day in the wake of the data. Stock futures on Wall Street climbed. Following a two-day meeting earlier this week, the Federal Open Market Committee voted to keep the key Fed funds rate steady at a target of 5.25% to 5.50%. This range, which stood at near zero in March last year, is at its highest level in more than two decades. However, recent data has pointed to continued robustness in the U.S. economy. Consumer prices advanced at a faster-than-anticipated clip in the 12 months through September, while gross domestic product in the third quarter also outpaced estimates. Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday following the decision, Fed Chair Jerome Powell left open the possibility for additional policy tightening, but stressed that officials will proceed carefully in response to a host of uncertainties facing the U.S. economy. Markets are already widely betting that the Fed will choose to keep borrowing costs steady at its next meeting in December, with much of the debate now swirling around how long it will maintain rates at their current elevated levels.

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