U.S. stocks wavered on Wednesday but rebounded in early trading. One day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit intraday and closing record highs, investors are now weighing a series of mixed data on the health of the economy.
The S&P 500 Energy Sector index jumped over 1 percent on Wednesday after U.S. crude inventories, excluding those in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, fell by 3.7 million barrels from the previous week, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Crude inventories are one of the most widely used indicators by oil traders to measure current stock levels, or the amount of oil currently stored for future use.
Brent crude, the global benchmark for oil prices, hit a five-year low on Monday to fall below $68 per barrel, nearly a 40 percent drop from peaking at $115 in June. Following the report on Wednesday, Brent crude edged up 0.75 percent, to $71.07, on the London ICE Futures Exchange. West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark for U.S. oil prices, rose 1.20 percent, to $67.68, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
“As we see it, tailwinds from a slowing global economy and falling oil prices are likely to force the Federal Reserve to rethink a change in monetary policy until the end of 2015,” Peter Cardillo, chief market economists at Rockwell Global Capital, said in a note.
Separate data on Wednesday showed economic activity in the U.S. nonmanufacturing sector grew stronger than expected in November, jumping to a three-month high. The Institute for Supply Management’s survey, which is utilized to help economists better understand national economic conditions across the nonmanufacturing sector, rose to 59.3 in November, topping economists' expectations for an increase to 57.5 and higher than 57.1 in October. A reading above 50 indicates expansion in economic activity, whereas a reading below 50 indicates contraction.
Private sector employers created fewer jobs than anticipated last month, adding 208,000 new jobs in November, according to ADP’s National Employment Report, which provides a monthly snapshot of U.S. nonfarm private sector employment based on actual transactional payroll data. Economists had expected the report to show 220,000 new jobs were created last month, according to analysts polled by Reuters. Although ADP’s report missed forecasts, the analysis showed growth driven by gains in small businesses while monthly job gains remained consistently over 200,000. “Small businesses continued to drive job gains, adding almost half the total for the month,” Carlos Rodriguez, president and CEO of ADP, said in the report.
Also on Tuesday, data revealed the weakest rise in U.S. service sector business activity since April. The final estimate of Markit’s services sector PMI fell to 56.2 in November, just shy of its “flash” preliminary reading of 56.3 and down from 57.1 in October. "However, at present, the slowing is still only modest and leaves the economy growing at its approximate long-term trend rate,” Chris Williamson, chief economist at Markit, said in a statement.
Ahead on the economic calendar, the U.S. Federal Reserve is scheduled to release its Beige Book at 2 p.m. EST, a report the central bank publishes eight times per year on the current economic conditions of the U.S. economy in all 12 of the Fed's districts.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which measures 30 large industrial stocks, added 21.86 points, or 0.12 percent, at 17,901.41; the S&P 500 Index added 5.42 points, or 0.26 percent, at 2,072.17. The Nasdaq Composite rose 5.03 points, or 0.11 percent, to 4,760.95.