Stocks Started Little Changed after Mixed Data

U.S. stocks opened near unchanged on Wednesday following an unexpected contraction in fourth-quarter economic activity and a better-than-expected payroll report. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 11.19 points to 13,942.23. The S&P 500 index was off half a point at 1,507.36. The Nasdaq Composite rose 4.5 points to 3,158.48.

The U.S. economy shrank from October through December for the first time since the recession ended, hurt by the biggest cut in defense spending in 40 years, fewer exports and sluggish growth in company stockpiles. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that the economy contracted at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter.

Private-sector employment got off to a good start in 2013, according to a report from payroll-processing firm Automatic Data Processing Inc. The U.S. added 192,000 private- sector positions in January, ADP estimated Wednesday, led by a 177,000 jump in the number of service-providing jobs.

There is a new twist in the London Whale trading scandal that cost JPMorgan Chase $6.2 billion (3.9 billion pounds) in trading losses last year. Some of the firm’s own traders bet against the very derivatives positions placed by its chief investment officer, said three people familiar with the matter.

Hennes & Mauritz (HM-B.ST), the world’s No.2 fashion retailer, posted an unexpected drop in quarterly earnings, hit by competition in tough European markets and the cost of its expansion drive to take on bigger rival Inditex. Pretax earnings in the September- November period fell to 6.6 billion Swedish crowns ($1.0 billion) from a year-earlier 6.8 billion, hit also by a strong crown.

Toyota Motor Corp will recall nearly 1.3 million cars globally for two separate defects, including 752,000 Corolla and Corolla Matrix vehicles in the United States to fix airbags that could be deployed inadvertently, the automaker said on Wednesday.






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