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Economy Briefs: Economy adds 163,000 jobs, but rate rises to 8.3 percent

- - Sunday, August 5, 2012

UNEMPLOYMENT

The labor market improved last month after a soft spell in the spring, with businesses creating 163,000 more jobs in a wide range of occupations from health care to manufacturing, the Labor Department reported Friday.

The job gains were the best since February and nearly tripled from June's pace of 64,000. They reflected a bounce-back in hiring in such areas as auto manufacturing, where seasonal layoffs were lower than usual, as well as retail trade and hospitality. Layoffs in government were subdued at only 9,000 last month, contributing to the overall improvement in the market.

"This brings a three-month period of disappointing employment growth to an end," said Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit Group Ltd., a financial information services company. He noted that private-sector jobs are now at the highest level since December 2008, while the government workforce is at the lowest level since July 2006.

The uptick in job growth reported by businesses was tempered by an increase in unemployment to 8.3 percent from 8.2 percent reported by households surveyed by the department.

TECHNOLOGY

AT&T sets deadline for 2G sunset in 4 years

NEW YORK — AT&T Inc. says the shutdown of its second-generation, or "2G," wireless network will be complete by the end of 2016, a process that will force customers with older phones to upgrade to "3G" or "4G" handsets.

In a regulatory filing, the Dallas-based company said 12 percent of its customers on contract-based plans, or 8.4 million people, have 2G phones.

AT&T said it's shutting down the older network, which doesn't support high data speeds, city by city. It said earlier this year that the process has started in New York City, and it's trying to move the city's 2G subscribers to new phones.

By shutting down 2G and using the same space on the airwaves for 4G, AT&T can increase data capacity by more than a hundredfold. Other companies are also "refarming" 2G spectrum. Sprint Nextel Corp. is shutting down the Nextel 2G network and moving subscribers to Sprint 3G.

SEC

SEC head calls softwaretrading glitch 'unacceptable'

The head of the Securities and Exchange Commission says the agency is reviewing what caused a software glitch that threw the stock market into turmoil Wednesday, calling it "unacceptable."

SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro says technical problems like the one caused by Knight Capital Group illustrate how investor confidence can be shaken. The technical problem briefly put trading of dozens of stocks into chaos.

While the markets must rely on computers, regulators and market officials must still try to reduce the chances of technical errors and limit their impact when they occur, she said.

Ms. Schapiro said some of the trading controls put in as a result of the May 6, 2010, "flash crash" helped to limit the impact of Knight's error Wednesday.

IMF

Officials to visit Egyptfor talks on renewing aid

NEW YORK — Top officials from the International Monetary Fund will visit Cairo later this month to discuss restarting aid, the IMF announced Sunday.

The mission, led by the IMF's Middle East and Central Asia chief Masood Ahmed, is expected to "resume discussions on possible financial support for a homegrown economic program," the IMF said in a statement.

The fund "stands ready to support Egypt and work closely with the authorities," it added.

Since late last year, the fund has been discussing with the country's interim leadership a possible $3.2 billion loan with Cairo to help it bridge fiscal shortfalls while restructuring the economy and financial system.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports