Pre-Labor Day, Wall St. Gets Good Labor News

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Throw another burger on the grill, Martha. Just in time for Labor Day, some surprisingly good labor news sent Wall Street traders off to the Hamptons happy. After spending a glum week worried that a string of less-than-positive economic numbers would spook the Federal Reserve into yet another rate hike in October, traders were wishing and hoping that the August unemployment numbers would show that inflationary pressures had already been brought to heel. The news was even better than they hoped: Unemployment was down, but not too much, and hourly wages were up, but by just pennies. The Dow shot up more than 200 points in the hour after the opening bell, then settled in at that plateau.

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"This is the big break the markets have been waiting for after a week of bad news," says TIME senior economics reporter Bernard Baumohl. "The pace of new job creation for August is less than what economists had forecast, and the pressure on wages has been slight." That spells low inflation, notes Baumohl, and it means that worries about another Fed rate hike this year have been, if not entirely put to rest, at least sent upstairs for a nice long nap. Burgers? Hey, why not break out the steaks?