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Overnight Markets: Wall Street finishes flat ahead of payrolls

Overnight Markets: Wall Street finishes flat ahead of payrolls

Wall Street closed little changed on Wednesday as a positive data on private sector employment wasn't enough to interest buyers ahead of the highly anticipated June payrolls report.

The Dow Jones industrial average gained 20 points or 0.12%, to 16,976, the S&P 500 gained one point to 1,975 and the Nasdaq Composite fell one point to 4,458.

US private employers hired 281,000 workers in June, far exceeding expectations for 200,000, data from payrolls processor ADP showed. The number bodes well for the government payroll data due before the market opens on Thursday.

Utilities sector suffered the most as traders bet the labour data indicated a stronger economy and the potential for higher interest rates. Utilities, because of their typically steep dividend yields, are a market favourite in a low interest rate environment.

JP Morgan Chase (JPM.N) fell 1% after chief executive Jamie Dimon said he had been diagnosed with early stage throat cancer but would remain actively involved in the largest US bank's business while in treatment. Bank of America Corp. advanced 1.6% as Deutsche Bank AG advised investors to buy the stock.

Airlines also suffered losses after Delta Air Lines Inc. said excess capacity in some international markets forced fares down more than expected. Delta lost 5.1%.

Constellation Brands (STZ.N) surged 2.3% after reporting earnings beat expectations.

In deal news, TechCrunch reported Rackspace Hosting (RAX.N) may take itself private, while Bloomberg reported Shutterfly (SFLY.O) was working with boutique investment bank Qatalyst Partners to find buyers. Rackspace shares rose 6.3%, while Shutterfly jumped 15%.

In Asia, shares oscillated between gains and losses after private data showed US companies added more workers than estimated before a government payrolls report today.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index (MXAP) lost 0.1% to 147 as of 11:09 a.m. in Tokyo after gaining 0.1%. Japan’s Topix index slipped 0.1% and South Korea’s Kospi index fell 0.2%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.7%, while New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index added 0.1%. Taiwan’s Taiex index lost 0.1%, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index rose 0.3%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index gained 0.2%. The Shanghai Composite Index lost 0.1%.

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