NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks were mostly lower on Wall Street Wednesday as a mix of worrying developments across the globe outweighed encouraging news about the job market.
The threat of the European debt crisis re-emerged as traders dumped Portuguese bonds as the country's government teetered on the edge of collapse. Oil climbed above $102 a barrel for the first time in more than a year as the political crisis in Egypt intensified, raising the risk of supply disruptions in the Suez Canal.
That news was offset by a brighter outlook on the U.S. job market before Friday's monthly employment report. Fewer Americans sought unemployment benefits last week and a payrolls processor ADP said U.S. employers added more jobs last month than expected. The government's critical monthly jobs report is scheduled to be released Friday morning. Economists predict that U.S. employers added 165,000 jobs in June.
"The ADP was so positive that it should give some hope for Friday's employment report," said JJ Kinahan, Chief Derivatives Strategist at TD Ameritrade.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 11 points, or 0.1 percent, to 14,944 as of 11:06 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The Standard & Poor's 500 dropped five points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,609.43. The Nasdaq composite was little changed at 3,434.
In Europe, stock markets slumped after the yield on Portugal's benchmark 10-year bond surged almost a percentage point to 7.28 percent. Investors are worried about the future of the bailed-out country and its efforts to get a handle on its debt after two Cabinet members quit the government.
Germany's DAX index fell 1.4 percent to 7,804 and the U.K.'s FTSE 100 fell 1.5 percent to 6,205.
"Overseas news has certainly played a role in U.S. market opening on the weak side this morning," said Michael Sheldon, chief market strategist at RDM Financial Group. "You have political unrest in Egypt, which has helped propel oil prices back above $100. We're also starting to see a re-emergence of political risk in Europe, which is stirring the pot."
The bad news from overseas was offset by some encouraging news on U.S. hiring.
Payroll processing firm ADP said that U.S. employers added 188,000 jobs in June, more than the 155,000 forecast by economists, according to data provider FactSet. The government's weekly jobless claims report provided evidence that layoffs remain low and job gains steady. The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits fell 5,000 to 343,000, the Labor Department said.
Another report showed that U.S. services firms grew at a slower pace in June from May but added more jobs.
The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its index of service-sector growth fell in June to 52.2. That's down from 53.7 in May and the lowest reading in more than three years. Its measure of employment jumped to 54.7 from 50.1 in May.
In U.S. government bond trading, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 2.47 percent from 2.48 percent Tuesday.
The price of oil climbed $2, or 2 percent, to $101.60. Oil has climbed 8 percent since Monday last week. The price of gold rose $10.60, or 0.9 percent, to $1,254.20.
The New York stock exchange will close at 1 p.m. Wednesday before the July 4 holiday. It will reopen on Friday. The dollar rose against the euro and fell against the Japanese yen.
Among stocks making big moves;
— Alcoa fell 13 cents, or 1.7 percent, to $7.67 after the Citigroup analyst Brian Yu reduced his second-quarter and full-year profit predictions for the aluminum producer, citing low prices for the metal.
— AutoNation gained 80 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $45.36 after Credit Suisse raised its rating on the stock to "outperform" from "neutral," citing a positive outlook for the company's parts and servicing business.
—Mead Johnson fell $6.25, or 8.66 percent, to $68.40 adding to a 5.7 percent slump Tuesday. The Chinese government is investigating the nutritional products maker for possibly violating anti-monopoly laws in its pricing of infant formula, Bloomberg News reported yesterday.