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A pedestrian passes a "Help Wanted" sign in the door of a hardware store in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

REUTERS/Brian Snyder

A stunning US jobs report on Friday showed that the US economy added a whopping 517,000 jobs in January, far more than the expected 187,000 – taking unemployment down to 3.4%, the lowest it's beensince May 1969. This, coupled with the 11 million US employment openings at the end of 2022, reflects a hopping job market. Experts attribute the surprise figures to there being so much pent-up labor demand that companies continue to hire, though the tech sector has seen a recent slew of layoffs. Job creation has increased in areas like housing and finance, which would normally be more sensitive to high interest rates.

Sounds pretty great, right? Not exactly. The Federal Reserve has been desperately trying to slow the economy and tamp down inflation by raising interest rates, with eight hikes since March 2022. More jobs, however, mean more money being heaped into the economy, so markets tumbled Friday morning as investors anticipated more interest rate hikes in response. That said, the hiring surge may give economists a reason to soften their predictions about a looming recession, or at least about its severity.

People and rescue workers gather to look for survivors after a suicide blast in a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan


100: The death toll has climbed to 100 following Monday’s horrific mosque attack in Peshawar, the deadliest terror attack in Pakistan in years. Officials blame the Pakistani Taliban (also known as TTP) for the attacks, but while a TTP commander initially claimed responsibility, the group has since distanced itself from the bombing, saying they do not attack mosques. Authorities have remained mum, but several suspects have now been arrested.

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Israeli forces stand near the scene of a shooting attack in Neve Yaacov, Jerusalem

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

A Palestinian gunman opened fire near a synagogue in east Jerusalem on Friday night, killing seven Israelis, including a 70-year-old woman, and wounding three. The assailant was shot dead by police. The attack, one of the deadliest within Israel in recent years, punctuated a week of rising violence and came just a day after seven Palestinian gunmen and two civilians were killed during an Israeli Defense Forces raid in the West Bank refugee camp of Jenin, which targeted suspected terrorists. Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad vowed revenge, and subsequent rocket launches from the Gaza Strip were followed by limited Israeli strikes.

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70: Iran now has enough enriched uranium to build nukes, according to International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi. While the Islamic Republic insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, it reportedly has 70 kilograms (155 pounds) of uranium enriched at 60% – enough to build several nuclear weapons.

Watch on GZERO World — Grossi explains how close Iran is to getting the bomb.

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A man harvests opium in a field outside Loikaw, Myanmar.

Soe Zeya Tun/Reuters

33: Opium cultivation had been declining in Myanmar, but all that changed in 2022 under the military junta that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi. Last year, the Southeast Asian country saw opium production rise by 33%, and UN experts fear it will continue to rise amid economic and political instability.

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Paige Fusco

Japan’s inflation rate hit 4% last month. Sounds low, right? Compared to many Western countries, it is. But for Japanese consumers, it’s the highest spike in prices since 1981. As a result, the Bank of Japan is under increasing pressure to raise its key interest rate from -0.1%, where it’s been since 2016. Japan’s central bankers are far from alone. In fact, on Wednesday, the Bank of Canada again boosted its benchmark interest rate, this time to 4.5%, but also became the first major central bank to announce it plans to hold off on further rate hikes for now. Most wealthy countries have felt the price crunch due to high energy costs, COVID supply chain issues, and the war in Ukraine. We compare inflation numbers for the past year across all G-7 countries.

Sri Lankan Commando Regiment members in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

REUTERS/Dinuka Liyanawatte

Sri Lanka’s military downsize

In its latest bid to cut the economic fat, Sri Lanka's government announced that it will downsize its army, aiming to reduce the number of military personnel from 200,783 to 135,000 by next year and to 100,000 by 2030. Sri Lankan defense officials say the army is restructuring in order to boost its tech capabilities, primarily in cyberspace. But analysts highlight that this is part of President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s pledge to slash the bloated public sector, a precondition to unlocking a $2.9 billion bailout package from the International Monetary Fund. Crucially, military salaries make up around 37% of public wage costs. Cash-strapped Sri Lanka defaulted on its external debt for the first time in May 2022, after years of economic mismanagement led to acute fuel and food shortages – and forced Colombo to borrow heavily from India and China. With the bulk of Sri Lanka’s defense spending going to salaries rather than investment in equipment, this plan presents an opportunity for the country to correct its balance sheet. But some critics worry that Colombo, facing an internal terror threat, could be moving too hard too fast.

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General view of the US Department of the Treasury in Washington, DC.

Graeme Sloan/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

The US government surpassed its debt ceiling early Thursday, prompting the US Treasury Department to implement a series of temporary emergency measures to avoid a US government default. What does this mean and why does it matter?

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