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By Noel Randewich SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Wall Street will fixate on a wave of U.S. economic data next week, crested by payrolls data on Friday that could sway expectations about the timing of future interest rate hikes and spark volatility in record-high stock prices. Fresh data about employment and consumer confidence could help investors solidify expectations for a December interest rate hike from the U.S. Federal Reserve, or lend weight to a minority of strategists predicting a rate rise as early as next month. Fed Chair Janet Yellen said the case for a rate hike is strengthening, but she left open the timing of what would be the first increase since December 2015.
Flags flew at half mast across Italy on Saturday as the country observed a day of mourning for the victims of an earthquake that killed nearly 300 people. President Sergio Mattarella paid tribute to the "extraordinary effort" of more than 4,000 rescue experts and volunteers as he began what was set to be an emotionally charged day with a brief visit to Amatrice, around 100 kilometres (60 miles) northeast of Rome. There are fears more bodies will be recovered in Amatrice, a holiday spot that was packed with visitors when the powerful quake struck in the early hours of Wednesday.