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Shares in recruitment companies Michael Page (MPI) and Hays (HAS) edged up 2 to 3 per cent this week after a rare flurry of good news on the UK employment outlook lifted spirits, but any festive cheer will be tempered by the challenging long-term backdrop. In the first quarter of next year, UK companies are expected to hire workers at the fastest rate since 2008, according to a survey by staffing firm ManpowerGroup.