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MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's jobless rate rose in August, breaking a five-month streak of declines and adding to expectations of a deceleration in Latin America's second-largest economy in the second half of 2012.
The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 4.93 percent in August, the national statistics agency said on Friday, above the 4.80 percent expected in a Reuters poll.
July's upwardly revised 4.79 percent unemployment rate was the lowest in almost a year.
The jobless rate still remains well above levels seen before the 2008-2009 recession and economists said it showed there was little chance of home-grown pressure on inflation, which is running at its highest in more than two years.
"In general the pressure measure in the labor market has worsened, suggesting a softening in demand for labor," said Pedro Tuesta, economist at 4Cast.
"The trend is fairly in line with the suggestion that the economy is slowing down and may reduce the pressure on costs that a tighter labor market will bring."
The Mexican central bank said earlier this month it may raise interest rates from the current 4.5 percent level if inflation did not come down, but economists and investors do not expect them to act on the threat, with markets pricing in unchanged credit costs through April 2014..
Weakening U.S. labor and factory activity has begun to drag on Mexican growth after the economy grew at a more than 4 percent rate in the first half of 2012, although exports rebounded in July.
The raw jobless rate was 5.39 percent in August. Analysts had expected that figure to rise 5.10 percent from 5.02 percent in July.
Data on Thursday showed Mexican retail sales fell by the most in seven months in July.
Additional reporting by Noe Torres; Reporting by Krista Hughes and Michael O'Boyle; Editing by James Dalgleish and W Simon