Few signs of slowdown in US

THERE ARE few signs of a widespread economic slowdown in the US, and the inflation outlook remains relatively benign, according to official figures out yesterday. The US unemployment rate held steady at 4.5 per cent in July, and employers reported a small but positive net gain in jobs of 66,000.

The jobs figures were depressed by the General Motors strike, analysts said, and August's numbers are expected to show a marked increased in labour demand.

Despite the continued growth in payroll numbers, there were few signs of accelerating wage inflation. Manufacturing hourly earnings, which were depressed by the General Motors strike, fell by 0.3 per cent. Wall Street received the labour market data well, and analysts said the numbers should help persuade the US Federal Reserve to hold fire on rates.