U.S. stocks closed in negative territory following seesaw trading Wednesday, as investors weighed a disappointing private-sector jobs report against slightly better- than-expected non-manufacturing index.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged down 5.01 points, or 0. 03 percent, to 15,440.23. The S&P 500 lost 3.56 points, or 0.20 percent, to 1,751.64. The Nasdaq Composite Index fell 19.97 points, or 0.50 percent, to 4,011.55.
The U.S. private sector added 175,000 jobs in January, the lowest level since August, partly affected by the cold weather, private payroll processor ADP said in a report on Wednesday.
The figure was slightly below average market expectation of 180, 000 jobs and lower than December's downwardly-revised reading of 227,000.
The private gauge of labor market pointed to a weak non-farm payroll report slated to be released Friday by the Labor Department, putting a damper on the market.
However, Wall Street recouped part of earlier losses after data showed that economic activity in the U.S. non-manufacturing sector grew in January. The reading registered 54, slightly higher than the seasonally adjusted reading of 53 in December, the Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday.
Among other data, U.S. mortgage applications increased 0.4 percent for the week ending Jan. 31 from one week earlier, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
In corporate news, Merck's shares advanced 0.04 percent to 53. 53 U.S. dollars though the drug maker's profit fell short of market consensus.
Shortly after the closing bell, the Walt Disney and Twitter released their quarterly earnings. The former's shares jumped in after-hour trading as the media conglomerate's revenues and profits beat market expectations while the latter's shares tumbled though the micro-blogging site's earnings matched analysts' forecasts.
The CBOE Volatility Index, widely considered as a fear gauge of the market, rallied 4.40 percent to 19.95.
In other markets, oil prices rose as demand for oil is expected to increase amid the cold snap in the United States.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery moved up 19 cents to settle at 97.38 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, while Brent crude for March delivery gained 47 cents to close at 106.25 dollars a barrel.
Gold futures on the COMEX division of the New York Mercantile Exchange gained momentum, with the most active gold contract for April delivery up 5.7 dollars to settle at 1,256.9 dollars per ounce.
The U.S. dollar stayed flat against other major currencies on mixed economic data coming out from the country.
In late New York trading, the euro gained to 1.3536 dollars from 1.3516 dollars of the previous session, and the British pound decreased to 1.6313 dollars from 1.6321 dollars.