BUSINESS

Stocks trading slightly higher, oil gains

Stocks inch higher, oil and jobs gain

U.S. stocks are creeping higher Wednesday as traders sift through the latest economic news

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose three points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,070 as of 10:16 a.m. EST. The Nasdaq composite rose two points to 4,758. The Dow Jones industrial average rose four points to 17,882.

JOBS: Payroll processer ADP said Wednesday that companies added 208,000 jobs in November, the third straight month that hiring has topped 200,000. Some analysts said it was an encouraging sign for the government's broader jobs survey coming out on Friday.

RESPONSE: "The biggest, most important economic statistic in the world looks like it will continue its winning streak if this morning's ADP employment report is to be believed," Christopher Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, wrote in a note to clients. "Things are better than you think. Bet big on it."

WHAT TO EXPECT: Economists forecast that the government will say employers added 225,000 jobs in November and that the unemployment rate slipped to 5.7 percent from 5.8 percent, according the financial data provider FactSet.

SHOPPING MALL: Abercrombie & Fitch's stock surged after the clothing store for teens reported that its quarterly profit topped analysts' estimates, even though sales slumped. Abercrombie gained $1.05, or 4 percent, to $28.87.

ENERGY: Oil prices turned slightly higher. The price of U.S. benchmark crude rose 69 cents to $67.57 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude rose 78 cents to $71.32 on the ICE Exchange in London.

BONDS: Prices for U.S. government bonds slipped, pushing yields up. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note edged up to 2.30 percent.

OVER THERE: Europe's major markets were mixed. France's CAC 40 sank 0.2 percent while Germany's DAX rose 0.4 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.2 percent.

WARNING: A day ahead of the European Central Bank's final policy meeting of the year, a closely watched survey indicated Wednesday that the 18-country eurozone is not far from sliding back into recession. Financial information company Markit said its purchasing managers' index, a broad gauge of the manufacturing and services sectors, slipped a full point to a 16-month low of 51.1 in November. While slightly above the threshold of 50 that indicates expansion, the number indicates that growth is muted.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index ended 0.3 percent higher, after briefly touching its highest level since 2007. In China, Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1 percent, and the Shanghai Composite Index in mainland China gained 0.6 percent.

YEN SLUMP: The dollar rose to 119.67 yen from 119.22 yen. The weakening yen, driven by the government's monetary easing aimed at stimulating the economy, is good for the nation's big exporters such as Toyota and Canon because it makes their cars and electronics cheaper overseas.

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