US stocks adrift after weak private jobs report; Protective Life jumps on deal news

The Associated Press

FILE - This July 15, 2013 file photo shows the New York Stock Exchange in New York. Stocks moved slightly lower in early trading Wednesday, June 4, 2014, after a private jobs report suggested that U.S. employers pulled back on hiring last month. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

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NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are fluctuating between small gains and losses after a payroll company said U.S. companies pulled back on hiring last month.

Handbag and luxury accessory maker Coach slumped 2 percent. Protective Life Corp. jumped 18 percent on news that the company would be bought by the Japanese insurer Dai-ichi Life Insurance for $5.7 billion.

In economic news, payroll company ADP reported a pullback in hiring at private companies, and the U.S. trade deficit jumped to a two-year high.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index edged up two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,926 as of noon Eastern time Wednesday.

The Dow Jones industrial average was little changed at 16,724. The Nasdaq composite rose 15 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,249.

The Nasdaq got a boost from Apple, its biggest component.

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