Dow Slips Amid Economic Woes

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The blue chips fell modestly on Wednesday, but rebounded from the lows of the session, as traders mulled a round of mostly glum economic reports.

Today's Markets

As of 3:10 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 34.3 points, or 0.26%, to 13245, the S&P 500 dipped 6 points, or 0.43%, to 1400 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 1.9 points, or 0.06%, to 3052.

Wednesday is set to be a busy one from an economic standpoint.

The private sector tacked on 119,000 jobs in April, far fewer than the 177,000 economists had expected, according to a report from payroll processor ADP. Servicing-based companies added 123,000 jobs, but that gain was offset by a loss of 4,000 among goods producers.

The data come ahead of the key employment report from the Labor Department on Friday. The jobs market has been improving, but the rate of growth came as a disappointment to forecasters last month. Additionally, the number of individuals applying for first-time jobless benefits has been creeping higher, causing some to worry of a slowdown in the sector.

U.S. factory orders slid 1.5% in March, the Commerce Department reported. It was the biggest drop since March 2009, but less than the 1.6% expected.

On the heels of an unexpectedly strong report on the U.S. manufacturing sector, traders were confronted with worrisome data from other major economies.

Factory output in the eurozone contracted at a quicker pace in April than in the month prior, according to a report from Markit. The report showed "steep and accelerating downturns" in Italy, Spain and Greece, economies that have been hit hard by the debt crisis. The 17-member currency bloc's biggest economic player, Germany, wasn't immune either, seeing its factory output hit 33-month low.

"With manufacturers typically conducting the majority of their trade within the euro area, austerity in deficit-fighting countries is having an increasing impact on demand across the region," Markit Chief Economist Chris Williamson said in the report.

Several exchanges in Europe were down sharply on the day, with Spain's IBEX and Italy's MIB both falling more than 2%. The European Central Bank is set to release a monetary policy statement on Thursday. Analysts generally expect it to hold rates steady, but there are some who believe the central bank will cut rates in a bid to boost struggling economies in the currency bloc.

HSBC's China PMI gauge showed factory activity in the world's second-biggest economy contracted for the sixth month in a row in April, but at a slower pace than the month before.

The Energy Department said inventories of crude oil rose 2.8 million barrels last week, a slightly bigger build than the 2.5 million expected. Gasoline stocks fell 2 million barrels, a bigger draw than the 800,000 that was forecast.

Crude oil traded in New York fell 94 cents, or 0.89%, to $105.22 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline slipped 0.69% to $3.08 a gallon.

In metals, gold slid $8.40, or 0.51%, to $1,654 a troy ounce.

Corporate News

PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) boosted its annual dividend to $2.15 a share from $2.06.

Foreign Markets

European blue chips fell 0.71%, the English FTSE 100 slid 0.93% to 5758 and the German DAX dipped 0.75% to 6711.

In Asia, the Japanese Nikkei 225 gained 0.31% to 9380 and the Chinese Hang Seng rallied 1% to 21309.