Socks rose on Wednesday after employers added more jobs than expected last month, but shares came off their highs as oil prices surged in a correlation expected to define trading in the near term.
Brent crude oil futures jumped more than $2, pushing above $117 a barrel, after reports of intensified fighting between government supporters and rebels in Libya.
There is an increasingly strong correlation between equities and oil, said John Brady, senior vice president at MF Global in Chicago. Investors fear rising oil prices could derail the economic recovery.
Private sector employers added more jobs than expected last month in a sign of steady improvement in the labor market, ahead of the closely watched U.S. government's monthly jobs report on Friday.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 18.35 points, or 0.15 percent, to 12,076.37. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> rose 2.73 points, or 0.21 percent, to 1,309.06. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> added 13.01 points, or 0.48 percent, to 2,750.42.
A broker upgrade of the semiconductor sector helped the Nasdaq. The Philadelphia semiconductor index <.SOX> rose 1.7 percent.
Texas Instruments Inc
Private employers added 217,000 jobs in February, the ADP Employer Services report showed, above expectations for a rise of 175,000. January's figure was revised higher by 2,000 to 189,000.
Employment agency Monster Worldwide Inc
Shares in Yahoo Inc
(Editing by Kenneth Barry).