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Last Updated: Friday, 2 February 2007, 15:49 GMT
US unemployment on the increase
Worker at GM factory in Michigan
Recent economic indicators have been mixed
US unemployment has risen to a four month high of 4.6% after fewer new jobs were created last month than expected.

Analysts said figures showing that 110,000 new jobs were created in January were disappointing, but still reflected steady growth in the market.

At the same time, a separate report showed that US consumer sentiment hit a two-year high in January.

The figures will be welcomed by the Federal Reserve as they suggest US economic growth is not overheating.

'Best outcome'

"This is one of the best outcomes the Fed could have expected," said Beata Caranci, senior economist at TD Bank Financial Group.

"There's not any threat of wage-push inflation but still a significant number of people employed."

Noting that the economy was in "firmer" shape, the Federal Reserve opted to keep interest rates on hold at 5.25% on Wednesday.

The latest consumer sentiment figures have come from the closely watched University of Michigan report.

Its consumer sentiment index rose to 96.9 in January, its highest level since 2004, from 91.7 in December.

Analysts had expected the US Labor Department to show that 150,000 new jobs were created last month.

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