Stocks Opened Slightly Higher and Turned Negative

U.S. stocks opened marginally higher and turned negative in the early trading on Wednesday after a pair of economic reports pointed to a slight slowdown in the labor market but a pickup in exports. The Dow Jones Industrial Average lately fell 27.66 points, or 0.15%, to 17,890.49. The S&P 500 shed 4.77 points, or 0.23%, to 2,105.02. The Nasdaq Composite was down 6.86 points, or 0.13%, to 5,138.27.

Private-sector employment gains continued in October at a slightly slower pace than in the prior month. Employers added 182,000 jobs last month, Automatic Data Processing Inc. reported Wednesday.

The U.S. trade deficit narrowed sharply in September to its lowest level in seven months as exports rebounded. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday the trade gap fell 15 percent to $40.8 billion, the smallest deficit since February.

Oil prices were being closely watched Wednesday after a rally in the previous session. On Wednesday, prices had slipped slightly on profit-taking, with Brent trading at $50.33 and U.S. crude at $47.76 and investors were looking ahead to U.S. government inventory data.

Volkswagen shares fell sharply on Wednesday after the company said it had understated carbon dioxide emissions for 800,000 cars, widening its scandal over cheating on U.S. diesel emissions tests.

Target plans to close 13 stores nationwide, including one in New Ulm and two others in Milwaukee and Superior, Wisconsin. The Minneapolis-based retailer says a decision to close a store usually follows several years of decreasing profitability. The retail giant plans to close the stores on Jan. 30, 2016.

Avon Products Inc. swung back to a loss in its third quarter as the seller of beauty products was hurt by restructuring, accounting of its Venezuelan sales and the sale of its natural skincare line. For the third quarter, Avon reported a loss of $697 million, or $1.58 a share, compared with a profit of $91.4 million, or 21 cents, a year earlier.

Michael Kors Holding Ltd. (KORS) said Wednesday it had net income of $193.1 million, or $1.01 a share, in its fiscal second quarter, compared with $207 million, or $1.00 a share, in the year-earlier period. Revenue rose 6.9% to $1.13 billion.

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