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The US jobless rate fell to 7 percent in November, a five-year low, data showed Friday, raising the odds that the Federal Reserve could soon cut its huge stimulus program. The job growth spread over the manufacturing, retail trade, health and professional service sectors, and suggested that US industry continues to gain confidence despite the continuing battles over the budget and spending cuts in Washington, that many economists have feared would slow hiring. Analysts said the strength of the Labor Department report could give the Fed more reason to begin cutting back its $85 billion a month bond-buying program, aimed at boosting economic growth. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke said early this year that the Fed could very well end the stimulus when the jobless rate falls to 7 percent, though he has stressed that such numbers are only indicative thresholds for policy.
DALLAS (AP) — As snow and freezing rain blanketed normally sun-swept North Texas, residents accustomed to warmer temperatures appeared to heed warnings on what one hardware store manager called "Ice Friday," staying off nearly impassable roadways and out of a skin-stinging cold.