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Stocks fell for a third day, putting a summer market comeback in doubt as the Federal Reserve and other global central bankers continued to signal they will raise interest rates to squash inflation despite the negative consequences for economic growth and, potentially, corporate profits.


Companies sharply slowed the pace of hiring in August amid growing fears of an economic slowdown, according to payroll processing company ADP.  Private payrolls grew by just 132,000 for the month, a deceleration from the 270,000 gain in July, the firm said in its monthly payroll report.  The Dow Jones estimate for the ADP count was 300,000.


Lower gas prices helped consumer confidence bounce back in August, breaking a three-month stretch of worsening sentiment.  However this improvement, while welcome, is tempered by ongoing worries that the US economy may be heading toward a recession.  The Conference Board's monthly snapshot of consumer attitudes improved, rising to 103 from July's downwardly revised 95.

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