Stocks edged up on Wednesday after a heavy sell-off in the previous session as concerns eased about the financial condition of European banks.

A day after the S&P 500 hit an eight-month low, Wall Street opened slightly lower on a weak private sector jobs report, but sentiment was helped by data showing Midwest business activity grew slightly more than expected this month.

It was a little better, but not by much. At least it was a breath of hope for the market that should help it rally off its lows as the market opened, said Tom Schrader, managing director at Stifel Nicolaus Capital Markets in Baltimore.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was up 2.91 points, or 0.03 percent, at 9,873.21. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 2.80 points, or 0.27 percent, at 1,044.04. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 12.09 points, or 0.57 percent, at 2,147.27.

The ADP Employer Services report showed U.S. private employers added only 13,000 jobs in June, compared with a revised gain of 57,000 in May.

Global equities markets and the euro -- all heavily beaten down this week -- rebounded after financially fragile European banks showed less need to borrow from the European Central Bank (ECB). The banks face repaying nearly one-half trillion euros in emergency loans on Thursday.

Shares of Ford Motor Co rallied 6.2 percent to $10.49 after the automaker said it was wiping $4 billion in debt off its balance sheet.

The stock gained 5.1 percent to $10.38.

Hurricane Alex disrupted BP Plc's cleanup of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill and threatening to push more oily water onshore. Still, U.S.-traded shares of BP rose 3.9 percent to $28.73.

General Mills Inc fell 4 percent to $35.44 a day after the company forecast earnings below expectations.

(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)