* ADP report and jobless claims both top forecasts
* Technology among day's strongest sector, but materials
* Crude oil jumps above $100 per barrel on unrest in Egypt
* Indexes lower: Dow 0.1 pct, S&P 0.3 pct, Nasdaq 0.1 pct
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, July 3 U.S. stocks fell modestly in a
volatile, abbreviated session on Wednesday as concerns over
growth in China and European debt overshadowed strength in
large-cap tech shares.
Major indexes swung between losses and breakeven in thin
trading as many traders were already away before Thursday's
Independence Day holiday. Markets will close early on Wednesday
and reopen for a full session on Friday.
A pair of encouraging reports on the labor market boosted
sentiment before Friday's payrolls report but failed overcome
concerns about developments abroad.
Chinese shares dropped after data on China's services sector
indicated slowing growth, while European shares fel in reaction
to a political crisis in Portugal that sent the country's bond
"I thought we would see a much greater decline given the
news from overseas, but the market is holding up pretty well,"
said Mark Grant, managing director at Southwest Securities in
Fort Lauderdale, Florida. "It looks like people are squaring up
ahead of the holiday.
Large-cap tech stocks were among the strongest of the day,
helping to limit losses. Cisco Systems rose 1.3 percent
to $110.94 while Oracle Corp rose 0.8 percent to
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 16.82
points, or 0.11 percent, at 14,915.59. The Standard & Poor's 500
Index was down 5.67 points, or 0.35 percent, at 1,608.41.
The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 2.52 points, or 0.07
percent, at 3,430.88.
The S&P 500 is almost 4 percent below its May 21 record
closing high of 1,669.16, but has been unable to close above its
50-day moving average of 1,623.94 since June 20.
Cyclical shares, which are closely tied to the pace of
economic growth, were among the biggest losers on Wednesday.
Financial and material shares were among the weakest, though
losses were limited in energy stocks after a spike in crude oil
U.S. Steel Corp sank 5.5 percent to $18.20 while Alcoa
Inc lost 1.8 percent to $7.66. Bank of America Corp
fell 0.9 percent to $12.79 while Morgan Stanley
was off 1.8 percent at $24.01.
Private employers added 188,000 jobs in June, far more than
had been expected, a report showed. In addition, initial jobless
claims fell by more than expected in the latest week. Both
reports were encouraging going into Friday's jobs report.
The Institute for Supply Management's index for the services
sector fell to 52.2 from 53.7 in June, below expectations.
"There's a lack of visibility in markets with all the global
issues out there, and while the (labor market) data is positive,
it also isn't the kind of strong rebound we'd love to see," said
Wayne Kaufman, chief market analyst at Rockwell Securities in
New York. "It is very difficult to project earnings in this
environment, and that's why we've been unable to break above
Economic data has been a significant market mover in recent
weeks as investors attempt to gauge when the U.S. Federal
Reserve will begin reducing its bond-buying stimulus program,
which has been credited with fueling the market's gains this
year. Bullish data has led to market declines as traders worry a
strong economy will mean a faster end to the policy.
In the upcoming non-farm payrolls report, analysts expect
165,000 jobs to have been added in June, below the 175,000 added
Crude oil prices rose 2 percent to a 14-month high of
$101.57 a barrel on concerns that political unrest in Egypt
could destabilize the Middle East and disrupt supply.
Insurance companies were in focus after the Obama
administration said it wouldn't require employers to provide
health insurance for their workers until 2015, delaying a key
provision of the healthcare reform law by a year.
Tenet Healthcare dropped 2.7 percent to $44.40 and
Community Health Systems fell 2.4 percent to $45.43.