US economy added fewer jobs than expected in October as employers faced more uncertainty over growth, but a slight fall in the rate of unemployment to 9pc suggested the economy was gaining momentum.
The Labor Department said non-farm payrolls rose by 80,000 last month, the slowest in four months and below the 95,000 expected by economists.
Businesses added 104,000 jobs, below September's total and the government shed 24,000 jobs.
However, the report included some positive signs:
• The government revised figures for August and September to show 102,000 more jobs than previously reported
• Average hourly earnings rose
• The unemployment rate fell from 9.1pc to 9pc - the first fall since July - because a separate survey of households showed more people found work.
Alan Ruskin, global head of G10 foreign exchange strategy at Deutsche Bank in New York, said: "Overall the data at a minimum confirms there has been no slippage in growth momentum ... The latest data is strong enough that it will kill off thoughts of a QE3 Christmas present for global markets."
On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve said it now expects US growth to be weaker and unemployment higher than it thought in its last set of forecasts, as the central bank left the door open to fresh measures to help the world's biggest economy.
It also took a more gloomy view on jobs, predicting unemployment will stick at 8.5pc to 8.7pc next year against the 7.8pc to 8.2pc range it had forecast.
While acknowledging the economy had shown improvement in the third quarter, Fed chairman Ben Bernanke struck a downbeat note in his last press conference of the year.
"Right now consumer confidence is where it was during the depths of the recession. That's discouraging," he said.
Mr Bernanke refused to be drawn on whether a fresh round of stimulus is likely, but strongly suggested there is more the bank could to do tackle unemployment.
"Cyclical unemployment left untreated, so to speak, can become structural unemployment," he said.
The report remains bad news for President Barack Obama who is likely to face voters with the highest unemployment rate of any postwar president.
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