Wall Street closes mixed on jobs data

Soft private sector jobs number sees investors temper yesterday's euphoria.

United States stocks closed mixed after struggling for direction during the session, with investors largely overlooking two disappointing data reads.

At the closing bell, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 35.70 points, or 0.22%, to 16,360.18.

The broad-based S&P 500 slipped 0.10 of a point, or 0.01%, to 1,873.81, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index bucked the trend by inching six points, or 0.14%, higher to 4,357.97.

A closely watched private sector jobs report showed US businesses adding just 139,000 jobs in February, far below the 160,000 number tipped by analysts.

The report may cause downward revisions to forecasts for Friday's official jobs report, where the unemployment rate is expected to fall to 6.5%.

Meanwhile, the services sector in the US also took a breather, with the non-manufacturing purchasing managers' index dipping to 51.6 in February, below the 53.5 number expected by the market.

While the data added weight to concerns the US economy is losing traction, many analysts believe that much of the recent weakness can be attributed to a brutal winter in some of the country's biggest cities.

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