* MSCI equity index barely higher after mixed U.S. data
* Emerging markets index down slightly
* Treasuries yields rise; oil edges up
By Caroline Valetkevitch
NEW YORK, Feb 5 Global equity markets mostly
inched up on Wednesday as U.S. services sector data showing a
pickup in growth was offset by a weaker-than-expected U.S.
private jobs report, while the yen rose to near two-month highs.
The mixed data left investors uncertain over the pace of the
U.S. recovery. The S&P 500 was lower, adding to a recent slide
that investors speculate could be part of a long-awaited
Two private surveys showed an uptick in U.S. growth in
January. The Institute for Supply Management said growth picked
up in the dominant U.S. service sector in January, with steady
strength in private-sector hiring, while Markit's report on
service-sector activity showed growth quickened to a four-month
high in January and hiring remained robust.
Separately, the ADP National Employment Report showed U.S.
private employers added 175,000 jobs in January, just shy of
analysts' expectations. The report precedes the highly
anticipated U.S. monthly payrolls data on Friday.
Markets have been volatile in recent weeks on concerns about
demand and turmoil in emerging market currencies.
"Today's (data) almost just added to the confusion, or added
to the indecision, as to what exactly should we believe," said
Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's
Investment Research in Cincinnati.
Calmer markets in vulnerable emerging nations like Turkey,
South Africa and Russia helped to offset some of the recent
jitters, along with Markit's euro zone Composite PMI, which
showed the 18-member bloc's recovery becoming increasingly
On Wall Street, trading was volatile. The benchmark S&P 500
hit a session low of 1,737.92, marking its lowest level since
Oct. 18, before briefly climbing into positive territory.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 3.8 points or
0.02 percent, to 15,441.44, the S&P 500 lost 3.58 points
or 0.2 percent, to 1,751.62 and the Nasdaq Composite
dropped 16.349 points or 0.41 percent, to 4,015.171.
A global equity index was up 0.2 percent,
while an index of European shares ended 0.1 percent
higher. MSCI's emerging markets index was down just
"It will be a buying opportunity when investors feel
comfortable this rout we're in is over," said Paul Mendelsohn,
chief investment strategist at Windham Financial Services in
Charlotte, Vermont. "I don't think they want to step in front of
it just yet until they have a feeling of where the bottom is
going to be. We're not there yet."
In the foreign exchange market, the yen rose toward
two-month highs against the dollar and euro as the stock market
struggled, and ongoing worries about emerging markets kept
safe-haven currencies attractive.
The greenback was last 0.3 percent lower to 101.39 yen
. The euro was down 0.2 percent to 137.06 yen
after hitting a session low 136.51 yen.
Against the dollar, the euro was slightly lower at $1.3515
amid caution the European Central Bank could sound a more
dovish tone at Thursday's policy review.
U.S. Treasuries yields rose as investors bet Friday's jobs
report will come in relatively strong.
"I think that most participants are looking for a stronger
number, mainly so they can buy at higher yields," said Thomas di
Galoma, co-head of fixed-income rates at ED&F Man Capital in New
Benchmark 10-year Treasuries yields were just
above 2.65 percent, after falling from more than 3 percent at
the beginning of the year as investors fled emerging market
assets and stocks tumbled, increasing the safe-haven demand for
U.S. government debt. The 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down
13/32 in price to yield 2.6711 percent.
Weakening economic data has increased views the Federal
Reserve may ease reductions in its bond purchase program if the
economy worsens, though many market participants say the data
needs to change considerably from current levels to alter the
GOLD, OIL PRICES FIRM
Spot gold rose as much as 1.5 percent to a session
high of $1,273.26 an ounce after the U.S. data. It was last up
0.3 percent at $1,257.80.
Oil prices edged higher. A U.S. industry report showed lower
inventories and robust heating fuel demand due to cold weather
in the United States.
The American Petroleum Institute's report on Tuesday showed
crude stocks at the Cushing, Oklahoma, hub fell by 1.6 million
barrels last week and distillates by 1.5 million barrels.
Distillates include heating oil.
Brent crude was up 45 cents at $106.23 and U.S.
crude gained 19 cents to settle at $97.38.