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ECONOMY

U.S. firms added 162K new jobs in September

A private survey shows that U.S. businesses hired fewer workers in September than August, a sign that slow growth may be holding back hiring.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that companies added 162,000 jobs last month. That’s below August’s total of 189,000, which was revised lower.

The September increase was better than economists had expected and marks the latest in a string of modest hiring gains reported by the survey. Still, the gain isn’t enough to significantly push down the unemployment rate, which has been above 8 percent for 31/2 years.

ECONOMY

U.S. service firms grow at fastest pace in 6 months

U.S. service companies, which employ nearly 90 percent of the workforce, grew in September at the fastest pace since March. The growth was driven by sharp increases in current and future sales.

The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of non-manufacturing activity rose to 55.1, up from 53.7 in August. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion.

The report measures growth in a broad range of businesses from retail and construction companies to health-care and financial-services firms.

TECHNOLOGY

HP’s Whitman warns profits down in 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — Hewlett-Packard Co. is expecting earnings to fall by more than 10 percent next year as CEO Meg Whitman struggles to fix a wide range of problems in a weakening economy.

Mrs. Whitman delivered the disappointing forecast Wednesday.

Following the remarks, HP’s stock price shed $1.19, or 7 percent, to $15.94 in afternoon trading. The sell-off shoved HP’s shares to their lowest level in nearly a decade. The stock has fallen by about 30 percent since the former CEO of eBay Inc. took over HP last September.

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