Weak Jobs Report Blurs Fed’s Policy Path

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Easy-Money Pullback Looks Less Likely Before Year-End as U.S. Businesses Remain Skittish on Hiring.

The delayed September jobs report clouded the outlook for the U.S. economy, creating a new obstacle for the Federal Reserve to wind down its controversial bond-buying program.

U.S. employers added 148,000 jobs during the month, well below the pace of gains seen in the first half of the year. The unemployment rate, obtained from a separate survey of households, ticked down to 7.2% from August’s 7.3% and offered a glimmer of hope as the drop was due to more people finding work rather than leaving the labor force.

The Labor Department’s monthly job report helped assure investors the Fed will leave its bond-buying program unchanged at its meeting next Tuesday and Wednesday. The weak payroll gains also likely raised the bar for action at the Fed’s mid-December meeting, when central-bank officials may be struggling to assess the economy’s course after months of data muddied by the federal government’s 16-day shutdown.

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