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Market Hustle: Stock Futures Inch Higher Despite Disappointing Private Sector Jobs Data

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Stock futures were inching higher Wednesday after the S&P 500 hit a new record during the previous session on easing tensions in Ukraine even as U.S. payrolls data disappointed. Investors have been willing to attribute poor economic readings to an unusually harsh winter. 

  • Futures for the S&P 500 were rising 1.84 above fair value to 1874.0 while futures for the Dow Jones Industrial Average were rising 19.12 above fair value to 16,401.0. Nasdaq futures were up 2.92 above fair value to 3,722.3
  • U.S. private sector employment rose by 139,000 jobs from January to February, according to the ADP National Employment Reports. Economists were expecting an additional 150,000 to 160,000 jobs.
  • In a sign Ukraine may be drawn further under the influence of Western Europe, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said Wednesday that the EU had offered Ukraine an aid package of at least 11 billion euros over the next few years. He said the EU was ready to sign a trade deal with the region.
  • U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian diplomats on Wednesday, while Russia held talks with NATO over developments in Ukraine.
  • Global markets rallied Tuesday, with the S&P closing at a record high after assurances from Russian president Vladimir Putin that the Ukraine crisis would not immediately escalate.
  • The ISM non-manufacturing survey is due at 10 a.m. EST, with consensus pitching a 53.5 result for February down slightly from 54 in January.
  • The Federal Reserve's Beige Book is due at 2 p.m.. The report focuses on economic conditions used at FOMC meetings that enables investors to see indicators the central bank uses to determine rate policy.
  • Key European stocks were lower after strong rallies on Tuesday as the Ukraine-Russian stand-off calmed. The FTSE in London was falling 0.57% while Germany's DAX was shedding 0.35%. In Asia, the Hang Seng closed down 0.34% while Japan's Nikkei was up 1.20%. Chinese authorities kept the growth target for the nation unchanged at 7.5%, despite signs of concerns around reaching it.
  • The losses in key European markets came despite a raft of positive economic data .The UK's Markit/CIPS services purchasing managers index for February exceeded expectations at 58.2 despite falling from 58.3 in January. Across the European Union, January retail sales rose a better-than-expected 1.6%. And a second estimate on GDP growth showed the euro economy grew by 0.3% in the fourth quarter.
  • Stocks expected to see price action Wednesday include Canadian Solar (CSIQ - Get Report), PetSmart (PETM) and Houghton Mifflin (HMHC). Canadian Solar is expected to outperform after posting earnings of 41 cents a share for the fourth quarter, with PetSmart is expected to announce earnings of $1.21 a share and Houghton Mifflin is predicted to post a loss of 29 cents a share.

-- Written by Jane Searle in New York

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