Stocks added thin gains after data released during afternoon trade showed U.S. private-sector employment increased by 191,000 jobs, up from 178,000 in February, according to Automatic Data Processing. That was below expectations of an addition of 200,000 jobs. ADP’s figures arrived ahead of the widely watched U.S. monthly jobs report, due Friday.
European stocks also held to mild gains after Eurostat’s report that producer prices in the euro zone fell in February, by 0.2% on a month-over-month basis, as energy prices declined. In an annual comparison, producer prices fell 1.7%, meeting median expectations.
Deflationary threats to the euro zone increase pressure on the European Central Bank — which meets Thursday — to act in an effort “to stimulate the economy and tackle the issue of deflation head on,” said ETX market strategist Ishaq Siddiqi, who added in a note that earlier this week, harmonized inflation for the euro zone fell.
Among the sharpest stock decliners on Wednesday was Deutsche Boerse AG, down 2.3% as the German exchange operator said its Clearstream Banking unit is subject to a criminal investigation in the U.S. related to alleged violations of money laundering and Iran sanction laws.
France’s CAC 40 was up less than 1 point at 4,429.12, a day after the index logged its highest closing level since September 2008. Pressure on Wednesday came in part from steelmaker ArcelorMittal . Its shares were dragged 1.6% lower after a ratings downgrade to neutral from outperform at Credit Suisse, “based on lack of earnings momentum, cycle risk and valuation.”
The U.K.’s FTSE 100 moved up 0.1% to 6,658.22, led by mining stocks and Marks & Spencer PLC after a report the retailer has plans to expand.
Germany’s DAX 30 index rose 0.2% to 9,625.12, with shares of Deutsche Post AG up 4.4% following a projection of earnings growth from the logistics and mail company.