U.S. stocks closed mixed Wednesday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average setting another all-time intraday high and closing high for a second day, boosted by an improving U.S. hiring market.
The blue-chip Dow gained 42.47 points, or 0.30 percent, to 14, 296.24. The broader Standard & Poor's 500-stock Index inched up 1. 67 points, or 0.11 percent, to 1,541.46, just 1.5 percent less than its historical high. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost 1.76 points, or 0.05 percent, to 3,222.37.
The main stock indices opened higher, propelling the Dow to hit 14,300 points for the first time amid euphoric global equity markets. The blue-chip index, which refreshed its previous historical high Tuesday, has gained 9 percent since the start of the year.
On the economic front, private sector employment of the United States increased by 198,000 jobs in February, beating the market expectation, payroll processor ADP said Wednesday. The data showed resilience in labor market despite the so-called sequester, or the automatic across-the-board spending cuts.
The market is awaiting for the non-farm payroll and unemployment data to be released Friday by the Labor Department.
New orders for U.S. manufactured goods in January dropped 2.0 percent, dragged down by slumping durable goods orders, the Commerce Department reported. But excluding transportation, a volatile item, new orders rose 1.3 percent, the department added.
The stocks moved higher after the Republican-controlled House passed a bill Wednesday afternoon to prevent a government shutdown when the current funding expires on March 27, while keeping in place the sequester. The legislation is scheduled to be voted by the Senate next week.
But Wall Street reacted little to the Beige Book released by the U.S. Federal Reserve as it provided no new contents. Reports from the twelve Federal Reserve Districts indicated that economic activity generally expanded at a modest to moderate pace since the previous Beige Book posted on Jan. 16.
In corporate news, Microsoft shares dipped 1.06 percent to 28. 05 U.S. dollars after the European Union on Wednesday fined the tech giant 731 million dollars for failing to offer users a choice of web browser.
Shares of Verizon dropped 0.84 percent to 47.29 dollars after the broadband and telecommunications company was reportedly seeking a full control of Verizon Wireless, a joint venture,which is now owned by Verizon and British mobile operator Vodafone.
Dell shares jumped 1.78 percent to 14.32 dollars after the special committee of the company's board defended the sale of the company as the best alternative for stockholders.
Shares of Exxon Mobil lost 0.06 percent to 89.56 dollars after the oil and gas giant predicted Wednesday at its annual meeting that its production would decline about 1 percent this year. However, the company plans to spend 190 billion dollars on exploration and development over the next five years.
J.C. Penney shares plunged 3.68 percent to 14.41 dollars following a slip to a four-year low, as the retailer's board would reportedly consider selling the company or replacing its current chief executive officer.
On other markets, the U.S. dollar rebounded against major currencies. In late New York trading, the euro dropped to 1.2994 dollars from 1.3041 dollars of the previous session and the British pound slipped to 1.5040 from 1.5112 dollars.
Meanwhile, investors are paying great attention to the European Central Bank's policy meeting on Thursday and its decision on interest rate.
Crude prices retreated Wednesday as the U.S. Energy Information Administration's weekly report showed crude inventories increased 3.8 million barrels for the week ending March 1.
Light, sweet crude for April delivery dropped 39 cents, or 0.43 percent, to settle at 90.43 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude for April delivery fell 0.5 percent to close at around 111 dollars a barrel.