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While Black Friday will mark a return to familiar holiday shopping patterns, uncertainty still remains. The U.S. job market remains strong, consumer spending is resilient and inflation has been slowing. But elevated prices for food, rent, gasoline and other household costs have taken a toll on shoppers. As a result, many are reluctant to spend unless there is a big sale and are being more selective with what they will buy — in many cases, trading down to cheaper stuff and less expensive stores. Shoppers are also dipping more into their savings, turning increasingly to “buy now, pay later” services, as well as running up their credit cards. Such financial hardships could help drive shoppers to look for bargains.

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America’s employers kept hiring vigorously in October, adding 261,000 positions, a sign that as Election Day nears, the economy remains a picture of solid job growth and painful inflation. Hiring was brisk across industries, though the overall gain declined from 315,000 in September. The unemployment rate rose from a five-decade low of 3.5% to a still-healthy 3.7%. The government also said average hourly pay, on average, rose 4.7% from a year ago, a smaller year-over-year gain than in September. A strong job market is deepening the challenges the Federal Reserve faces as it raises interest rates at the fastest pace since the 1980s to try to bring inflation down from near a 40-hear high.

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Wall Street is up following signs the U.S. jobs market may be slowing a bit. The S&P 500 rose 1.1% Friday after the government said the unemployment rate ticked higher in October. That could take some pressure off the nation’s high inflation, if not as quickly as the Federal Reserve hoped. Many investors saw the data keeping the Fed on its track to hiking rates into next year to slow the economy. Stocks in Asia rallied sharply earlier in the day on hopes and speculation that China may relax its strict anti-COVID measures that are hurting the world’s second-largest economy.

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Stocks fell on Wall Street, ahead of what traders expect will be another big interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve. The Fed is due to wrap up a two-day policy meeting later Wednesday that’s expected to produce the sixth interest rate increase of the year as the central bank fights the worst inflation in four decades. Markets will be watching closely to see what Fed Chair Jerome Powell says about the central bank’s outlook for how long rates will need to stay high to fight inflation. The S&P 500 fell 0.5% in morning trading on Monday.

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Stocks are opening widely higher on Wall Street, turning around after a loss a day earlier. Several companies were rising after reporting solid earnings or outlooks, including drugmaker Pfizer and Uber, which soared after issuing a strong forecast for bookings. The S&P 500 was up 0.4% early Tuesday. Long-term Treasury yields pulled back a bit more from their multiyear highs. The Federal Reserve is beginning a two-day policy meeting that's expected to result in its sixth interest rate increase of the year as the central bank fights the worst inflation in four decades. European and Asian markets were higher.

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Stocks fell on Wall Street, but with one day left in October major indexes are still headed for big gains for the month. Investors this week will be watching for another extra-large interest rate increase from the Federal Reserve, part of the central bank's fight against inflation, and the government's monthly report on the job market. Starbucks is among the companies reporting earnings this week. The S&P 500 slipped 0.8% Monday, but is still on track for its biggest monthly gain since July. The Dow is headed for its biggest monthly gain since at least 1987.