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Strong U.S. job growth highlights economy's resilience

U.S. job growth increased by the most in 10 months in November as former striking workers returned to General Motors’ GM.N payrolls and the healthcare industry boosted hiring, the strongest sign yet the economy was not in danger of stalling. The Labor Department’s closely watched monthly employment report on Friday also showed steady wage gains and the unemployment rate falling back to 3.5%, suggesting consumers will continue to drive the longest economic expansion in history, now in its 11th year. The report added to other fairly upbeat reports on the trade deficit, housing and orders for big-ticket goods. Together, the improving data validate the Federal Reserve’s decision in October to cut interest rates for the third time this year but signal a pause in the easing cycle that started in July when it reduced borrowing costs for the first time since 2008. U.S central bank policymakers are expected to highlight the economy’s resilience when they meet on Dec. 10-11, though trade tensions continue to reverberate in the background. “This was a strong report, with a solid rise in payrolls, another drop in the unemployment rate, and decent growth in hourly earnings,” said Chris Low, chief economist at FHN Financial in New York. “The Fed will see this as clear vindication of their decision to stop cutting rates.” Nonfarm payrolls increased by 266,000 jobs last month, with manufacturing recouping all the 43,000 positions lost in October, the government’s survey of establishments showed. Employment growth was also boosted by a gain of 60,200 healthcare workers, the most since March.