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US employers increased their payrolls by 175,000 in April — a notable slowdown from the average 276,000 new jobs per month created so far this year.

Last month’s pace of hiring marked a change of tune from a recent trend in the labor market, where resilience has bolstered the Federal Reserve’s case that interest rates aren’t quite ready to be slashed.

April’s job growth figure fell short of the 240,000 roles analysts were predicting — suggesting the possibility that the economy could be headed towards a slowdown worthy of an interest rate cut.

The closely watched jobs report also showed that the unemployment ticked higher to 3.9%, up from the month-ago rate of 3.8%.

The Dow Jones consensus had anticipated unemployment to remain unchanged.

April was the 27th straight month that the unemployment rate held below 4%.

March’s impressive 303,000 gains were shockingly revised up by 12,000 to a total of 315,000, and the Labor Department slightly revised February’s 270,000 additional roles down by 34,000, to 236,000, on Friday.

April’s jobs report showed strength in hiring primarily across the healthcare, social assistance and transportation industries.

Employment in retail also continued to trend upwards, while jobs across construction and government didn’t experience any notable increases, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The endurance of the labor market in recent months has been one of the most prominent signs that inflation will stay higher for longer.

Historically, a strong job market keeps wages and consumer spending levels elevated, thus fanning inflation and interest rates.

The latest economic data muddies the path forward for Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who said on April 16 that given the strength of the labor market and progress on inflation so far, its appropriate to allow restrictive policy further time to work and let the data and the evolving outlook guide us.

The rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee chose to keep the benchmark federal-funds rate steady — at the highest range the US economy has seen in over two decades — when its latest two-day meeting concluded on Thursday.

In an afternoon press conference, Powell downplayed the possibility of further rate hikes as recent economic data has yet build central bankers’ confidence they seek in falling inflation.

On Monday, for example, the World Bank warned that the days of energy and other commodities serving as a deflationary force could be nearing an end, citing geopolitical tensions that have put pressure on demands for oil, industrial metals and other supplies.

Just one day later, the Labor Department said the employment cost index (ECI) — which measures worker compensation and benefits — gained just 1.2% in the first three months of this year.

The reading, which traditionally signals underlying inflation pressures, was also above the 0.9% rise experienced in the fourth quarter of 2023.

The latest warning signs throw further doubt on the Feds ability to tamp inflation down to its 2% goal by the end of the year.

To bring inflation down from its 9.1% peak in the summer of 2022, central bankers issued a string of 11 rate hikes in an effort to cool down the economy, lifting borrowing rates to their current 23-year high, between 5.25% and 5.5%.

April’s CPI is slated to be released on May 15.

When inflation persists as it has, the Fed has historically hiked interest rates even further.

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Entertainment

Bruce Springsteen cancels shows over ‘vocal issues’

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Bruce Springsteen cancels shows over 'vocal issues'

Bruce Springsteen has cancelled a series of dates due to “vocal issues”, days after performing in what he described as “hellacious” weather in Sunderland.

The US star, 74, postponed shows in Marseille, Prague and Milan over the next fortnight, with his European tour set to resume in Madrid on 12 June.

In an Instagram post on Sunday, he said he was “recuperating comfortably” and he and the E Street Band “look forward to resuming their hugely successful European stadium tour”.

With “further examination” and “consulting”, the statement also said, doctors determined Bruce “should not perform for the next 10 days”.

Springsteen had played at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light on Wednesday, where he admitted the weather was particularly wet.

As he was honoured at London’s Ivor Novello Awards on Thursday, he said: “We just… came out of the plane in Sunderland last night, (it was) hellacious weather.

Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock

Ivor Novello Awards, Portrait Studio, Grosvenor House, London, UK - 23 May 2024
Bruce Springsteen with his Fellowship of The Ivors Academy and Sir Paul McCartney pose in the Studio at The Ivors with Amazon Music - May 23, 2024 in London United Kingdom. (Photo by Hogan Media/Shutterstock)

23 May 2024
Image:
Sir Paul McCartney presented Bruce Springsteen with the Fellowship of The Ivors Academy. Pic: Dave Hogan/Hogan Media/Shutterstock

“Driving rain storm, the wind blowing, blowing, blowing, and standing… in front of me, in the rain, I realised: these are my people.”

Springsteen also treated the audience to his song Thunder Road, after Sir Paul McCartney presented him with his Ivors Academy fellowship.

New dates for his postponed shows will be announced shortly, according to his Instagram account, and anyone seeking a refund “will be able to obtain it at their original point of purchase”.

Read more:
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He rescheduled dates in August last year in the US after he was taken ill, and cancelled planned concerts in March 2023 over other issues.

His first major tour in six years saw him play a headline gig in London’s Hyde Park in July 2023.

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Sports

Braves star Acuña out for season with torn ACL

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Braves star Acuña out for season with torn ACL

Atlanta Braves star outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. will miss the rest of the season after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during Sunday’s 8-1 victory at Pittsburgh.

The reigning NL MVP led off the game with a double to right-center field off Martin Perez. With Marcell Ozuna at the plate, Acuña started toward third on a stolen base attempt and his left knee gave way. Acuña remained down for several minutes while being treated, pointing at his left leg before walking off under his own power.

The Braves’ initial diagnosis was left knee soreness. But the team announced Sunday night that an MRI showed a complete ACL tear that will require season-ending surgery.

Acuña tore his right ACL on July 20, 2021. Wearing a brace in the clubhouse after Sunday’s win, the 26-year-old outfielder said this injury felt less severe.

“(I) don’t feel that painful, any pop or anything. … Don’t think it’s that bad,” Acuña said.

Acuña said he was looking to take third when he anticipated a slow throw back to the mound from catcher Joey Bart. The toss came in harder than expected, leading to an abrupt pivot back to second with his knee twisting.

Acuña is batting .250 with four homers and 15 RBIs in 49 games. The four-time All-Star hit a career-best .337 last season with 41 homers and 106 RBIs.

Atlanta already was missing All-Star right-hander Spencer Strider, whose season ended on April 13 when he had internal brace surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow. Third baseman Austin Riley is day to day with a left intercostal strain, and catcher Sean Murphy remains on the 10-day injured list with an oblique injury after he got hurt on opening day.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Politics

Could Trump’s win nix SEC crypto suits? Critics say he’s ‘pandering’ for votes

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Could Trump’s win nix SEC crypto suits? Critics say he’s ‘pandering’ for votes

One crypto lawyer thinks a Donald Trump election win would revert some SEC crypto lawsuits, but others note he hasn’t always kept campaign promises.

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