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US Job Growth Surprises Forecasters

A stronger than expected U.S. jobs report sent Wall Street stocks higher Friday amid growing optimism that higher oil prices have not stalled the recovering U.S. economy.

The U.S. economy created 337,000 jobs in October, far more than had been predicted by private sector forecasters. In addition, job growth in August and September was revised upwards, meaning at least 225,000 jobs have been created in each of the past three months. Some of the job growth in October was due to rebuilding and cleanup activities following damaging hurricanes in the American southeast.

Diane Swonk, a corporate economist in Chicago, says the jobs report makes it more likely that the Federal Reserve will again raise short-term interest rates when it meets this coming week.

"This is at least reassuring for the Federal Reserve that as they have tried to normalize [raise] rates they have not derailed the expansion," said Diane Swonk. "And they're going to deal more fundamentally with gasoline prices in the fourth quarter. We had a unique situation in the third quarter, in terms of the severity of their impact on the U.S. economy, because much of the increase was not passed off into higher gasoline prices."

Despite a near doubling of oil prices over the past year, the U.S. central bank has in the past three months raised short-term interest rates three times to a still very low 1.73 percent. A further quarter point rise is expected on November 10.

The weakening U.S. dollar rallied on news of the jobs report and then fell back and touched another low against the common currency of 12 European Union nations. The euro is currently trading at a record high of just under $1.30. The euro rise resumed after German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder suggested that he would tolerate a stronger euro. As oil is priced in dollars, a rising euro helps to offset oil price rises for consumers in western Europe.