US stocks ended higher on Wednesday after reports on private payroll and service activities beat market expectations, but gains were limited as concerns over economic conditions in Europe and China lingered.
When the market closed, the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 12.25 points, or 0.09 percent, to 13,494.61. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 5.24 points, or 0.36 percent, to 1,450.99. The Nasdaq Composite Index climbed 15.19 points, or 0.49 percent, to 3, 135.23.
Stocks were lifted after the Automatic Data Processing (ADP) employment data showed U.S. private payrolls rose by 162,000 in September, more than earlier prediction of 140,000, adding to hopes that the non-farm payrolls report to be released on Friday may also improve. Forecasts of September payrolls ranged from 72, 000 to 16,000 and predictions of unemployment rate stood between 8. 0 percent and 8.3 percent.
Investors were also encouraged by faster growth in the U.S. service sector, which employs nearly 90 percent of the country's work force.
According to the Institute for Supply Management, the non- manufacturing index has grown at the fastest pace since March, rising to 55.1 in September from 53.7 in August, mainly contributed by a sharp growth in new orders.
The manufacturing PMI was released earlier on Monday, which showed the index rose to 51.5 in September, the first time the index stayed above 50 in the last four months, a level indicating growth.
However, gloomy statistics from Europe and China exerted pressures on the market. Markit's Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers Index fell to 46.1 in September from 46.3 in August, marking a worsening contraction in the region's business activity. The new orders declined sharply and jobs cutting worsened last month, adding to signs of a deepening recession in the bloc.
China's government's purchasing managers' index for the services sector fell to 53.7 in September from 56.3 in August. It was the lowest level since November 2010.
Among stocks in focus, shares of Hewlett-Packard (HP), the technological giant, tumbled more than 13 percent after the company said its earnings is going to fall by over 10 percent next year.
HP's warning cast shadows to the upcoming earnings season, which will officially kick off next Tuesday with Dow component Alcoa.
Although some investors continue to hope that positive earnings will outweigh negative ones, some analysts have warned that the new earnings season will be the worst since the financial crisis.
In other market, crude prices tumbled on Wednesday as weak economic data from Europe and China clouded the outlook for oil demand. The economic slowdown in the world's second largest oil consumer weighed heavily on the crude markets, pushing down the prices drastically.
Moreover, the dollar jumped against its major counterparts on upbeat data, also pressuring dollar-denominated commodities. In late New York trading, the euro fell to 1.2899 from 1.2917 on Tuesday.
Light, sweet crude for November delivery dropped 3.75 dollars, or 4.08 percent, to settle at 88.14 dollars a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, hitting the lowest level in two months.