Stocks Rise on Service, Job Data

U.S.stocks closed higher on Wednesday, with modest gains following upbeat data on private-sector job growth and activity in the services sector. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 12.25 points, or 0.09%, to 13,494.61. The S&P 500 Index logged its third day of gains, ending up by 5.24 points, or 0.36%, at 1,450.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index finished up 15.19 points, or 0.49%, at 3,135.23.

A private survey shows that U.S. businesses added fewer workers in September than August, a sign that slow growth may be holding back hiring. Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that companies added 162,000 jobs last month. That’s below August’s total of 189,000, which was revised lower. Separately, service industries in the U.S. expanded more than forecast in September.

Oil prices fell sharply on Wednesday as disappointing economic data from China and Europe reinforced concerns about slowing growth and a weakening outlook for petroleum demand, even as supportive U.S. data strengthened the dollar. Brent November crude fell $3.40 to settle at $108.17 a barrel. As of 3:38 p.m. EDT (1938 GMT), the day’s low was $107.67, lowest price since Sept. 20.

Shares of Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) fell sharply on Wednesday as Chief Executive Meg Whitman warned that it will take longer to turn around the beleaguered tech powerhouse.

Marriott International (MAR) said late Wednesday its third-quarter profit was $143 million, or 44 cents a share. That compares to a loss of $179 million, or 52 cents a share, in the same 2011 period.

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