Stocks ended the day mixed on Wednesday, as weak oil prices weighed against upbeat readings on U.S. service sector activity and a report showing stronger-than-expected employment gains in September.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 13,494.61, up 12.25 points or 0.1 per cent. The broader S&P 500 closed at 1,450.99, up 5.24 points or 0.4 per cent. In Canada, the S&P/TSX composite index closed at 12,359.47, down 31.76 points or 0.3 per cent.
The ISM report on non-manufacturing activity rose to a reading of 55.1 in September, up from 53.7. That beat expectations for a decline to 53.4 and remained above the expansion threshold of 50, reducing concerns about U.S. economic health.
The ADP report on private sector employment showed job gains of 162,000 last month, ahead of expectations for 140,000 job gains. The report comes ahead of Friday’s official non-farm payrolls report from the U.S. Labor Department, though it often gives a very different indication of the employment landscape.
Crude oil fell to a two month low of $88.14 (U.S.) a barrel, down $3.75, after a report from the U.S. energy department showed the country’s crude oil ouput at its highest level in 15 years. The increase in supply comes at a time when investors are taking a dim view of demand as global economic growth, particularly in fuel-hungry China, shows signs of slowing.
Among Canadian energy stocks, Suncor Energy Inc. fell 0.6 per cent and Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. fell 1.7 per cent.
Hewlett-Packard Co. fell 13 per cent after it forecast disappointing earnings for fiscal 2013, pointing to a slower-than-expected turnaround for the computer maker.