U.S. stocks opened little changed on Wednesday as investors weighed a fresh round of proposed acquisitions against a weaker-than-expected employment report.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 20.36 points, or 0.16 percent, at 12,787.15. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 2.21 points, or 0.16 percent, at 1,354.41. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 0.77 points, or 0.03 percent, at 2,842.39.

U.S. private employers added 179,000 jobs in April, short of economists' expectations of 198,000.

Varian Semiconductor Equipment Associates Inc surged 51 percent to $61.39 after Applied Materials agreed to buy the company for $4.9 billion in cash.

(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica)