NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. stocks were higher Wednesday after growth in the services sector climbed at a faster rate than expected and as private payrolls data missed estimates, prompting worries the job market recovery isn't as sure a thing as recent data might have suggested.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.09% after closing with a new record high on Tuesday. The S&P 500 added 0.24%, only points from a new intraday record, while the Nasdaq added 0.08%.
ISM non-manufacturing activity rose to 59.3 in November, climbing at the second-fastest rate since 2005. Economists had estimated a reading of 57.1. Business activity climbed to 64.4 from 60, while new orders slipped to 51.4 from 59.1.
The domestic private sector added 208,000 jobs in November, according to the ADP National Employment Report. Economists had hoped for private payrolls to increase 221,000. The measure remains strong, though, with private employers adding an average 186,000 jobs per month for the 57th consecutive month.
"Steady as she goes in the job market," Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, said in a release. "At this pace the unemployment rate will drop by half a percentage point per annum. The tightening in the job market will soon prompt acceleration in wage growth."
Nonfarm productivity rose 2.3% during the third quarter, up from a previous 2% pace, the Labor Department said Wednesday. However, analysts had hoped for a rate as high as 2.4% to reflect stronger third-quarter GDP.
Asian markets were mixed with Hong Kong's Hang Seng closing lower. The Shanghai Composite extended Tuesday's gains to mark a three-year high on continued speculation the People's Bank of China could introduce fresh stimulus measures. The world's second-largest economy has been struggling with flagging industrial growth.
European markets were also mixed after recent data from the eurozone showed weakness in its composite purchasing manager's index. The reading, which looks at manufacturing and services, slipped to 51.1 in November, one point lower than October.
Crude oil was clawing back to just under $68 a barrel on Wednesday morning after tanking nearly 3% on Tuesday. West Texas Intermediate crude has settled around 36% lower than its mid-summer high. Crude prices have been squeezed after OPEC declined to constrain production last week despite global oversupply and slowing growth in the eurozone and China.
Puma Biotechnology (PBYI) tanked 14.4% after it said it would delay filing its experimental breast cancer drug for Food and Drug Administration approval by as much as 12 months.
Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF) added 4%, shaking off its third-quarter results that showed comparable sales down 8% and revenue crumbling by double-digits.
Toyota (TM) added 0.76% after announcing it is cutting 2,600 workers in Australia. The company has been exiting the region gradually to combat high production costs and stronger currency. The carmaker plans to stop Australian production by 2018.
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--Written by Keris Alison Lahiff in New York.