Stocks Slip After ADP Data Disappoint

By MarketsFOXBusiness

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U.S. equity markets fell on Wednesday after a closely-watched report on the labor market missed analysts' expectations.

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According to preliminary calculations, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.1 points, or 0.01%, to 15443, the S&P 500 dipped 3.5 points, or 0.2%, to 1752 and the Nasdaq Composite slumped 20 points, or 0.5%, to 4012.

A considerably weaker-than-expected report on the U.S. factory sector set off worries about the strength of the world's biggest economy as the Federal Reserve pares back its vast bond-purchasing program.

A report Wednesday from payroll processor ADP showed the private sector added 175,000 jobs last month, slightly weaker than estimates of a gain of 180,000.

"Cold and stormy winter weather continued to weigh on the job numbers. Underlying job growth, abstracting from the weather, remains sturdy," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics, in the report.

The data come out ahead of the all-important monthly jobs report from the Labor Department. Economists expect the American economy to have tacked on 184,000 jobs in January, with the unemployment rate holding steady at 6.7%.

The December data widely missed views, with the economy adding far fewer jobs than expected. Now, analysts are waiting to see whether there will be any revisions to the prior data. There are also worries among some economists that the effect of bad weather might be more pronounced than initially expected.

Meanwhile, the Institute for Supply Management's gauge of service-sector employment expanded to 54 in January from 53 the month prior, just slightly beating Wall Street estimates of 53.7. Readings above 50 indicate expansion, while those below point to contraction.

In commodities, U.S. crude oil futures rose 48 cents, or 0.5%, to $97.79 a barrel. Wholesale New York Harbor gasoline rose 0.34% to $2.612 a gallon. Gold jumped $9.80, or 0.78%, to $1,261 a troy ounce.

On the corporate front, CVS Caremark (NYSE:CVS), the No. 2 U.S. drug store chain, said it would stop selling cigarettes. Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) posted better-than-expected quarterly sales, while Merck (NYSE:MRK) posted a top-line miss.

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