Stocks slipped on Wednesday after ISM data showed the U.S. services sector grew in December, but at a marginal pace, and a report said the rate of job losses slowed at U.S. private employers.
The Institute for Supply Management said its services index rose to 50.1 in December from 48.7 in November. The reading was below economists' forecast of 50.5, according to a Reuters survey. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.
Pretty much right on spot, said Stephen Massocca, managing director at Wedbush Morgan in San Francisco.
The market seems like it wants to go higher, but we will need confirming numbers on Friday morning. In the meantime, precious little will take place.
The non-farm payrolls report from the U.S. Labor Department is due on Friday, with economists now forecasting 8,000 jobs lost overall in December versus the 11,000 lost in November.
Earlier data on Wednesday in the ADP Employment Services report, a precursor to Friday's payrolls report, showed a smaller-than-expected slowdown in job losses in December.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> dipped 7.26 points, or 0.07 percent, to 10,564.69. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> shed 1.08 points, or 0.10 percent, to 1,135.44. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> slipped 7.13 points, or 0.31 percent, to 2,301.58.
Earlier, two of the three major indexes hit fresh 52-week highs. The S&P 500 climbed to an intraday 52-week high at 1,138.17, and the Nasdaq advanced to an intraday 52-week high at 2,314.07.
Weighing on the Dow was Travelers Companies
But 3M Co
Another bright spot came from Family Dollar Stores Inc
In contrast, Walgreen Co
Dow Chemical Co
U.S. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd was expected to announce he will not seek re-election, sources said. The Connecticut Democrat has been dogged by questions over his financial industry connections and faces a tough re-election bid. The S&P Financial Index <.GSPF> added 0.4 percent and the KBW Bank Index <.BKX> rose 1.2 percent.
At 2 p.m., the Federal Open Market Committee will release minutes from its mid-December meeting.
(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)