1. Job growth slows to a lower-than-expected 151,000 in August
The U.S. economy added 151,000 jobs in August, beneath the 173,000 forecast and far lower than the big gains seen in June and July, according to a Labor Department report released Friday. The tally for June was cut from 292,000 to 271,000, and the July gain was bumped up from 255,000 to 275,000. The unemployment rate remains unchanged at 4.9 percent. Analysts said the hiring slowdown was not shocking, as companies cut investments and had trouble finding workers, and that it probably would delay the Federal Reserve's next rate hike closer to the end of 2016.
2. SpaceX rocket explodes on Florida launchpad
A SpaceX rocket exploded on a Kennedy Space Center launchpad early Thursday, two days before its scheduled launch. A fire broke out during a pre-launch fueling operation before several explosions rattled the test site in Cape Canaveral, Florida, and sent smoke billowing into the sky. The accident destroyed the rocket and the Amos 6 satellite it was to carry into orbit. The explosion came after a series of successes for tech entrepreneur Elon Musk's company, which succeeded in landing booster rockets on floating platforms — advancing its plan to cut costs by reusing rockets.
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3. Samsung recalls new Galaxy Note 7 over battery problem
Samsung on Friday recalled its new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones over a battery problem that can cause the devices to catch fire. The company has sold 2.5 million of the waterproof phones, which only made their debut on Aug. 19. Samsung said it had found 35 cases of faulty devices globally. The South Korean company's stock plunged on Thursday on reports a battery problem would delay future deliveries. The recall and its cost will be so big, said Koh Dong-jin, the head of Samsung’s handset division, "it almost breaks my heart."
4. Car sales drop in August, suggesting demand has peaked
U.S. sales of new cars and trucks dropped by 4.2 percent in August compared to the same month last year. The three leading automakers — General Motors, Ford, and Toyota — on Thursday reported sales declines of at least 5 percent for the month. The fall was expected. Automakers warned demand may have peaked, decreasing the odds sales will match last year's record and increasing the chances of new consumer incentives and slower production. Spending on cars and trucks is a key barometer of consumer spending, as it accounts for one-fifth of U.S. retail sales.
5. Walmart cuts back-office jobs to shift more workers to sales
Walmart announced Thursday that it would cut 7,000 back-office jobs in an effort to shift more of its 1.5 million employees to the sales floor. Most of the office positions to be eliminated will be in accounting and invoicing at the retail giant's 4,600 U.S. stores. Their functions will be moved to a central office. The affected workers will be offered jobs directly dealing with customers, a company spokeswoman said.
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