NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The benchmark U.S. stock indices turned positive Wednesday afternoon, following a rocky morning trading session. Still, investors were mostly sitting on the sidelines awaiting the government nonfarm payrolls report on Friday and bracing for the European Central Bank's next policy move.
The ECB on Thursday is widely expected to cut benchmark interest rates into the negative for the first time. Wednesday's weak, first-quarter euro-area economic growth data is expected to increase pressure on central bankers to step in and do something to combat a protracted period of low inflation that's threatening to derail the region's fragile recovery.
For Friday, economists are expecting a decline in the U.S. government jobs report to 218,000 jobs created in May from 288,000 added in April. The ADP Employment Change Index on Wednesday showed that the U.S. private sector added 179,000 jobs in May, which was below the forecast of 210,000 jobs and the April figure of 220,000.
The S&P 500 turned higher, up 0.2% to 1,928.05. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was adding 0.08% to 16,735.73. The Nasdaq was rising 0.47% to 4,253.90.
The DAX in Germany closed up 0.07% and the FTSE in London slid 0.25%. Asian markets finished mixed as the Nikkei climbed 0.22% and the Hong Kong Hang Seng fell 0.6%.
The trade balance for April was weaker than expected, with the deficit widening to $47.2 billion. U.S. productivity fell at an annualized rate of 3.2% in the first quarter, faster than the consensus decline of 3%.