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Job creation ended 2018 on a powerful note, with nonfarm payrolls surging by 312,000 in December though the unemployment rate rose to 3.9 percent.

The jobless rate, which was last higher in June, rose for the right reason as 419,000 new workers entered the workforce and the labor force participation rate increased to 63.1 percent. The participation level was up 0.2 percentage points from November and 0.4 percentage points compared to the year-ago level.

A broader measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers and those holding part-time jobs for economic reasons held steady at 7.6 percent.

In addition to the big payrolls gain, wages jumped 3.2 percent from a year ago and 0.4 percent over the previous month. The year-over-year increase is tied with October for the best since April 2009. The average work week rose 0.1 hour to 34.5 hours.

Economists surveyed by Dow Jones had been expecting payroll growth of just 176,000, though they projected the unemployment rate to fall to 3.6 percent. The wage number also was well above expectations of 3 percent on the year and 0.3 percent from November.

The report, released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, comes amid concern over whether the U.S. economy is part of a global deceleration, despite turning in its best year since the Great Recession.

Data released Friday showed a key manufacturing mark hitting a two-year low and mortgage volume at its lowest in 18 years.

The jobs market, however, remains hot.

Payrolls growth totaled 2.6 million in 2018, the highest since 2015 and well above the 2.2 million in 2017.

Health care led the way in new jobs, adding 50,000 for the month thanks to 38,000 new positions in ambulatory services and 7,000 more in hospitals. The industry saw a boom of 346,000 for the year, compared to a 284,000 gain the year before.

Restaurants and bars added 41,000 to the close the year with a 235,000 gain, down from 261,000 in 2017.

Construction also was one of the big gainers despite a slumping housing market. The industry added 38,000 jobs in December, bringing the annual total to 280,000, a 12 percent gain from 2017’s 250,000.

Manufacturing also tuned in a solid 32,000 gain for the month, with the bulk of the growth coming from the 19,000 positions added in the key durable goods sector. The sector also saw a surge in 2018, with the 284,000 new positions representing a 37 percent rise from the previous year.

Another closely watched sector, retail, posted growth of 24,000 thanks to a holiday season boost. For the year, retail added 92,000, reversing the loss of 29,000 in 2017.

Government jobs saw a gain of 11,000.

Previous months also saw positive revisions, adding to the upbeat tone for the year. November saw its disappointing 155,000 original report revised up to 176,000, while October’s count went from 274,000 to 237,000, for a net gain of 58,000 from the previous tallies.

Those revisions brought the three-month average up to a strong 254,000.

The report comes at a time of heightened market concerns over the Federal Reserve’s future path. The U.S. central bank raised interest rates four times in 2018 in an effort to prevent the economy from overheating, but President Donald Trump has criticized the Fed for endangering the economic recovery.

Futures traders expect the Fed to hold steady through the year, and in fact are pricing in a 45 percent of a rate cut by the end of 2019.

This is breaking news. Please check back here for updates.

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Apple lays off over 200 from Project Titan autonomous vehicle group

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In August 2018, Apple enlisted a Tesla engineering vice president and Apple veteran, Doug Field, to lead the Titan team alongside Bob Mansfield. This week’s dismissals from the group were seen, internally, as anticipated restructuring under the relatively new leadership.

Other employees who were impacted by the restructuring of Project Titan are staying at Apple, but moving to different parts of the company.

Of late, Apple CEO Tim Cook has touted his company’s initiatives in health as the key to its future growth. “I believe, if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, “What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?” it will be about health,” Cook told CNBC’s Jim Cramer.

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shares jump despite disappointing earnings

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Company Vice President Sean Kim said the memory demand slowdown would be bigger than expected into the first half of 2019 due to China’s economic slowdown and the U.S.-China “trade situation,” according to Reuters.

Kim’s comments came days after China announced that the country’s economic growth in 2018 was its slowest in nearly three decades. At the same time, Beijing and Washington are attempting to strike a deal amid an ongoing trade dispute which has seen the two largest economies in the world slap billions of dollars worth of tariffs on each other’s goods.

Some analysts were not surprised by the earnings report from SK Hynix.

“(The) results were as expected,” Daniel Yoo, head of global strategy at Kiwoom Securities, told CNBC in an email.

However, he warn that both SK Hynix and its rival Samsung were likely to see their operating profit for the first two quarters of 2019 coming in “less than half of last year’s record high(s).”

Yoo’s sentiments were echoed by Sanjeev Rana, a senior analyst at CLSA.

“I think we have a little bit more pain to go for the next two quarters,” Rana told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday.

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Huawei CFO extradition could be complicated: ex-US ambassador to China

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“Whenever a chief executive starts to voice his or her thoughts on the case, that’s a huge additional complication for the prosecution,” Baucus added. “In this case, it’s President Trump’s statement with respect to the Meng case … it makes it harder for the prosecution to get the extradition.”

Earlier this week, Canadian newspaper Global and Mail reported that the U.S. has told Canada it will formally request for Meng’s extradition — though no timeline was specified.

For its part, China has demanded the U.S. drop the extradition request. According to Canada, Beijing detained more than a dozen of its citizens after Meng’s arrest.

Baucus warned that if the U.S. extradition request is granted, it would have a major impact on the U.S.-China relationship.

The world’s two largest economies had been embroiled in a trade war in recent months, which roiled markets and sparked concerns over the health of the global economy. Late last year, Beijing and Washington agreed to a temporary pause on applying new tariffs in order to work out a mutually agreeable trade deal.

Huawei is one of China’s largest companies. The U.S. government has for years taken issue with the tech giant over its alleged espionage ties to the Chinese government and has accused the company of intellectual property theft.

— Reuters and CNBC’s Kate Fazzini contributed to this report.

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