* Apple rises ahead of new iPad unveiling
* Private sector job gains top expectations
* Greek debt swap accepted by 30 major holders
* Indexes up: S&P, Dow both 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.4 pct
By Edward Krudy
NEW YORK, March 7 U.S. stocks edged higher
on Wednesday, a day after Wall Street suffered its worst selloff
in three months and as a report showed the private sector added
more jobs than expected.
The pace of job creation by U.S. private employers
accelerated more than expected in February as the private sector
added 216,000 jobs. Improvement in the sector has been a key
driver in the recent stocks rally. The closely watched
government payrolls report comes Friday.
"This does suggest we are moving it the right direction,"
said Beth Ann Bovino, senior U.S. economist at Standard & Poor's
Ratings Services in New York. "It supports the expectations of
another 200,000 plus in Friday's payroll report. The jobs
numbers are looking healthier."
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 20.09 points,
or 0.16 percent, to 12,779.24. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
rose 2.99 points, or 0.22 percent, to 1,346.35. The
Nasdaq Composite Index added 12.78 points, or 0.44
percent, to 2,923.10.
In Tuesday's tumble, the Dow dropped 200 points on renewed
concerns about Greece's debt restructuring and the outlook for
the global economy after China cut its growth forecast. It was
one of the worst performances since equities began a more than
20 percent rise from lows in October.
Helping to reassure markets Wednesday, 30 major holders of
Greek government bonds said they will take part in the country's
debt swap, increasing chances of a deal going through.
Materials-related and banking stocks, which took the brunt
of Tuesday's losses, helped drive gains. Bank of America Corp
rose 1 percent to $7.79. United States Steel Corp
gained 0.4 percent to $25.35.
Anticipation of Apple Inc's latest iPad also kept
investors engaged. The company will unveil what is expected to
be a faster and better-equipped tablet computer later Wednesday.
The stock rose 1 percent to $535.65.
Apple, the world's most valuable company in terms of market
capitalization, will likely drive technology shares after its
product launch, especially because of its large weighting in the
Nasdaq 100 index.
Intraday swings in Apple are at the most volatile levels
since October last year. The stock is up over 30 percent this
"The Apple introduction will be very meaningful for the
market if they really can show some true innovation in the
product. It could give a nice push to technology stocks across
the board," said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital
Management in New York. "If the introduction is weak and shows
no real interest it could lead to some selloff there."
Ciena Corp posted a wider-than-expected quarterly
loss, hurt by delayed contracts, but expects results to improve
in the second half of 2012, sending the network gearmaker's
shares up 7.5 percent to $14.45.