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Signs of much stronger growth in the American economy last month jolted Wall Street yesterday. Following news of a much bigger than expected rise in employment and a surge in manufacturing output, some analysts warned that the US stock market's astonishing ascent might be drawing to an end.

There were 320,000 new jobs in July, mainly in private services and retailing. The unemployment rate declined from 5 per cent to 4.8 per cent.

Separate figures from the National Association of Purchasing Managers showed manufacturing activity picking up, with the index climbing from 55.7 to 58.6.

Christopher Low, an economist at HSBC Markets in New York, warned: "This could be the tip-off of the end of the bull market. We have all become extremely complacent."

The benchmark Treasury bond lost more than a point. In early trading the Dow Jones index shed more than 100 points before recovering later.