July 2, 2014 / 5:00 PM / 4 years ago

US STOCKS-Wall St flat after strong jobs data; utilities down

* ADP jobs data much better than expected

* Rackspace shares up on report it may go private

* JPMorgan shares slip as CEO Dimon says will be treated for cancer

* Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq up 0.1 percent or less (Updates prices, adds Constellation Brands)

By Rodrigo Campos

NEW YORK, July 2 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes were little changed on Wednesday, with the Dow stalling below the 17,000 level even after data showed the U.S. private sector created many more jobs than expected last month.

At its session high, the Dow was within 15 points of the 17,000 milestone, and the S&P 500 was less than 1.5 percent away from 2,000. Both round-number levels could serve as psychological barriers as the market trades at record highs.

U.S. private employers hired 281,000 workers in June, marking the biggest monthly increase since November 2012 and far exceeding market expectations for 200,000, data from payrolls processor ADP showed. The number bodes well for the government’s June payroll data due Thursday.

“We’re looking for a bit of a snapback in the economy and this is certainly data that points in that direction,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities in New York.

“The pattern of better economic data continues, that means we’ve got an improving economy which should lead to higher earnings and be constructive for stocks.”

A decline in demand for military equipment spurred a drop in new orders for U.S. factory goods in May, but signs of healthy appetite for investment in the private sector pointed to broader strength in the economy.

The S&P utilities sector was the worst performer among the ten industry sectors, down 1.7 percent as traders bet the data was a predictor of a stronger economy and higher interest rates. Utilities are a market favorite in a low interest rate environment as a dividend play.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 11.67 points or 0.07 percent, to 16,967.74, the S&P 500 gained 1.54 points or 0.08 percent, to 1,974.86 and the Nasdaq Composite added 6.31 points or 0.14 percent, to 4,464.96.

Rackspace Hosting shares jumped 8.3 percent to $36.56 after TechCrunch reported the cloud service provider may take itself private and was in talks with a private equity firm to fund the deal.

Shutterfly shares jumped 13.9 percent to $49.57 after Bloomberg reported the company was working with boutique investment bank Qatalyst Partners to find buyers.

GoPro shares fell 10.3 percent to $43.78 after closing at $48.80 Tuesday, which was more than double their IPO price of $24 set last week. Sungard’s Astec Analytics said the cost to borrow GoPro shares, a proxy for short interest, was “one of the highest on our system” and utilization is near 100 percent.

JPMorgan Chase shares were in focus after Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon said he had been diagnosed with early stage throat cancer but would remain actively involved in the largest U.S. bank’s business while in treatment. Shares were down 1.1 percent at $56.94.

Constellation Brands rose 3.2 percent to $91.19, earlier hitting a record high of $94.71 after it reported higher-than-expected revenue and profit on big sales of Corona and Modelo beer brands in the summer.

Adding to a recent string of transactions that has lifted stocks in the healthcare sector, Roche said it would pay up to $1.725 billion to buy Seragon Pharmaceuticals, a privately-held U.S. biotech company that researches breast cancer treatments. (Editing by Bernadette Baum and Meredith Mazzilli)

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