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Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief

October 3, 2012, 1:16 PM

Wednesday Afternoon Business Brief

A better than expected report on private sector hiring and news that the service sector is growing faster are providing investors some encouragement. The key averages were all higher in afternoon trading on Wall Street, though the gains have been held in check by a slump in energy stocks, which fell with a sharp drop in the price of crude oil.

  • Payroll processor ADP says U.S. businesses hired fewer workers last month. The ADP survey finds companies added 162,000 jobs in September, down from 189,000 in August. The report only covers private sector hiring. The Labor Department will offer a more complete picture of September hiring on Friday.
  • Fresh evidence of slower growth in China has sent oil prices plunging. China says its services sector slowed in September, though it's still is growing. That overshadowed news that U.S. service sector growth is accelerating. Benchmark oil was down nearly $3 to just below $89 per barrel in New York.
  • Portugal is announcing steep income tax hikes aimed at reducing its debt load despite mounting discontent over austerity measures. The country's finance minister describes the increases as "enormous" but says the country is "at a moment of financial crisis and social emergency." The government is reducing the number of tax brackets next year and will levy a tax surcharge of 4 percent on wages. It also plans to raise taxes on capital gains, assets, financial transactions, tobacco and luxury goods.
  • Shares of LifeLock have fallen more than 3 percent in its first day of trading. The online provider of identity theft protection services priced its initial public offering at $9, which was below the range analysts had been anticipating. The shares opened at $8.38, but recovered somewhat in morning trading.

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