The US labor market continues to defy the efforts of the Federal Reserve to cool hiring, as jobless claims for the week ending March 18 fell by 1,000 to 191,000, remaining below the 200,000 threshold for the ninth consecutive week. Despite higher borrowing rates, the Fed raised its key interest rate by a quarter-point on Wednesday, and Fed Chair Jerome Powell indicated the central bank remains focused on fighting high inflation, which may require further rate hikes. However, the Fed may not need to apply a lengthy string of increases if lending reduction by banks slows down the economy, hiring and inflation, he added. Despite layoffs in the technology sector, the US labor market is still growing and adding jobs at a healthy rate, with the unemployment rate predicted to rise to 4.5% by year-end, from its current 3.6%.

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