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U.S. stock-index futures held on to modest gains after a closely-watched report showed the private sector added slightly few jobs than expected last month.
As of 9:04 a.m. ET, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures climbed 27 points to 12960, S&P 500 futures rose 1 point to 1407 and Nasdaq 100 futures declined 1.5 points to 2663.
The ADP National Employment report showed the private sector added 118,000 jobs in November, missing expectations of 125,000 jobs created. Digging into the report, large businesses led the hiring with 66,000 jobs, followed by medium businesses at 33,000 jobs at small businesses at 19,000.
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, which collaborates on the report, said in a conference call "several crosscurrents" impacted the reading. In particular, he reckons Hurricane Sandy cut 86,000 jobs for the overall reading. He said manufacturing and small businesses were impacted especially severely by the superstorm. Also, the early timing of Thanksgiving added between 60,000 and 70,000 jobs that Zandi expects will come out of the December numbers.
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This report comes out ahead of the all-important monthly jobs report from the Labor Department. Overall, economists expect the economy to have tacked on 93,000 jobs in November, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 7.9%.
There are also two other reports on the docket for 10:00 a.m. ET. The Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing PMI is expected to show the U.S. services sector to have expanded at an increasing pace in November from the month before. A report from the Commerce Department is forecast to indicate factory orders having held steady in October from the month before.
Trading desks already had a busy day, with several reports being released in Europe. The eurozone services sector contracted at a slightly slower pace in November. Germany, the 17-member currency bloc's economic powerhouse, saw its contraction slow to near break-even territory, while France's contraction picked up steam. A separate report showed eurozone retail sales sinking 1.2% in October from the month before.
"European data continue to signal sluggish economic activity," analysts at Barclays wrote in a note to clients.
Elsewhere, commodities markets were little changed. The benchmark crude oil contract edged up by 32 cents, or 0.36%, to $88.81 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline dipped 0.09% to $2.687 a gallon. In metals, gold jumped $10.80, or 0.63%, to $1,707 a troy ounce.
The Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.25% to 2597, the English FTSE 100 gained 0.19% to 5880 and the German DAX ticked up by 0.24% to 7453.
In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 climbed 0.39% to 9569 and the Chinese Hang Seng surged 2.2% to 22271.