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Labor costs show slower rise, while trade deficit widens and jobless claims nudge lower


The cost of labor rose less than expected, but low productivity helped keep the pressure on inflation in the third quarter, according to Labor Department data released Thursday.Unit labor costs, a measure of productivity against compensation, increased 3.5% for the July-to-September period, below the 4% Dow Jones estimate and down from 8.9% in the second quarter.However, productivity rose at just a 0.3% annualized rate, below the 0.4% estimate — a reflection of upward price pressures that have kept inflation running around 40-year highs.In an effort to bring down soaring prices, the Federal Reserve on Wednesday enacted its sixth interest rate increase of the year, bringing its benchmark short-term borrowing rate to a target range of 3.75%-4%. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said he doesn’t think wage pressures have been a major contributor to inflation, though he added that the current pace is not consistent with the Fed’s 2% inflation goal.”In such a high inflation environment, productivity growth could play a critical role in alleviating cost pressures and shielding companies against a rising wage bill,” said Lydia Bousso …

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