Trader Neil Catania, right, works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange Wednesday, March 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are closing slightly higher after a surprisingly strong report on hiring by private companies raised hopes that the job market may be improving.
Trading was choppy as oil prices rose to $102 per barrel.
Payroll processor ADP said companies added 217,000 jobs last month, above what analysts predicted. That raised expectations that the government’s employment report coming out Friday could show a decline in the unemployment rate.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 8 points, or 0.1 percent, to close at 12,066.
The S&P 500 rose 2, or 0.2 percent, to 1,308. The Nasdaq gained 10 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,748.
Rising stocks outnumbered falling ones two-to-one on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was 1 billion.