Markets closed up today:
▲ Dow: +0.09 percent
▲ Nasdaq: +0.49 percent
▲ S&P: +0.36 percent
▲ Gold: +0.18 percent to $1,777.59 an ounce
▲Silver: +0.03 percent to settle at $34.58
▼ Oil: -4.14 percent
Stocks were up because:
Stocks were nudged higher on two economic reports Wednesday, but market gains were held in check by a slump in energy stocks and Hewlett-Packard 's 13 percent plunge. In a meeting with analysts and investors, Meg Whitman, HP's CEO, predicted weak earnings and sales for the foreseeable future.
The Dow Jones rose 12.25 points to close at 13,494.61. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 5.24 points to 1,450.99.
The Institute for Supply Management claimed its index of service companies, rose in September to the highest level since March. The index reached 55.1. Economists had estimated it would drop to 53.4.
But concerns over an economic slowdown in Europe, China and the U.S. helped push the price of crude oil down $3.75 to $88.14 a barrel. Energy stocks fell sharply as a result. After H-P, Chevron had the worst loss in the Dow, giving up $1.82 to $116.14.
In other trading, the Nasdaq composite index rose 15.19 points to 3,135.23. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note ended the trading day at 1.61 percent, the same as late Tuesday.
Hewlett-Packard plunged after CEO Meg Whitman said a successful turnaround of the computer maker is a long way off. Profits will likely fall by more than 10 percent next year, she said. H-P's stock lost $2.22 to $14.91.
Payment processor ADP said Wednesday that U.S. companies put 162,000 more workers on their payrolls last month. That's still below August's total of 189,000, and not enough to put a dent in the 8.1 percent employment rate.
Economists expect the unemployment rate edged up to 8.2 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August. And the unofficial start to the earnings season starts next Tuesday when the aluminum company Alcoa posts its results.
The Dow and the S&P 500 have crept higher in the first week of October. The Dow is up 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 is up 0.7 percent.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.