Morning Report: Fewer Job Losses In November; Google Blinks, A Little

The U.S. private sector lost 169,000 jobs in November, according to the ADP employment report released Wednesday, signaling the labor market may be stabilizing along with other sectors of the economy.

It was the fewest jobs lost since July 2008. The private sector has shed jobs for 22 months in a row. Job losses peaked at 736,000 in March and have lessened every month since.

After mounting criticism from disgruntled media executives — most notably News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch — Google said late Tuesday that it will begin allowing news publishers to limit the number of free articles accessed through its Internet search engine.

After failing to find other ways to get paid for online content, the media industry is considering blocking search engines' access to news content. It's unclear if such a move would push more online viewers toward newspaper web sites or simply reduce news viewership.

And North Korea has redenominated its currency by knocking two zeroes off the nominal value of banknotes to fight inflation and curb black markets, according to reports Tuesday.

The conversion rate was set at 100 to 1, so every 1,000 won bill is now being exchanged into a 10 won note. The switch essentially makes savings denominated in the old currency worthless.

Amid a lack of a modern financial and monetary system, North Korea has huge black markets that supply many of its goods, especially food. But the black markets, and the use of a growing supply of foreign currencies circulating in the country, have contributed to rising asset prices such as luxury apartment flats.

The move is likely to stem the inflation but if it cripples the operation of local markets, the consequences could be severe for the millions who depend on them for food. U.N. officials have estimated that as much as half the calories consumed by North Koreans come from food bought in black markets.

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