U.S. stocks rose on Wednesday, lifting the S&P 500 into uncharted territory, after a measure of the U.S. services sector climbed more than expected in May, helping counter another report that had private-sector job creation failing to live up to expectations.
Stocks maintained near session highs after the release of the Federal Reserve's Beige Book of regional business conditions, which found expansion in all of the Fed's 12 districts.
The anecdotal information from the central bank comes ahead of a Federal Open Market Committee gathering later this month, and is "certainly not moving moving on a day when we are on ECB vigil," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities, referring to a European Central Bank policy decision on Thursday.
The ISM non-manufacturing index rose to 56.3 in May, versus a 55.5 estimate, partially offsetting the latest reading from ADP and Moody's Analytics, which found companies added 179,000 positions last month, versus expectations of 215,000 job additions.
"ISM balances out a disappointing ADP and a disappointing trade number," said Hogan.
"The jobs numbers continue to be average at best. If this were a normal recovery, it would look pretty good, but the fact we were so devastated last recession, we expect them (jobs numbers) to be better than they are," said Chip Cobb, portfolio manager at BMT Asset Management, Mawr, PA.
"But, we'll continue to muddle through on a weekly basis, and continue to move higher. I just don't have a catalyst right now that would significantly push this market back," Cobb said.
Under Armour rose after Jefferies Group upgraded the sportswear retailer to buy from hold; FuelCell Energy declined sharply after the maker of fuel-cell power plants tallied a larger loss in the second quarter, and Protective Life jumped after Dai-ichi Life Insurance said it would acquire the life insurer for 5.7 billion.
Consumer discretionary and consumer staples led sector gains and telecommunications fared the worst as the rose 3.64 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,927.88, taking out both its record intraday and closing high reached on Monday.
Also clearing losses, the Nasdaq added 17.56 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,251.64.
Advancers pulled just ahead of decliners on the New York Stock Exchange, where 592 million shares traded. Composite volume approached 2.8 billion.
Other data Wednesday had the U.S. trade gap expanding in April as Americans bought large amounts of consumer goods, cars and business ware from overseas.
Financial data firm Markit's gauge of the U.S. services sector expanded in May at its fastest rate since March 2012, up to 58.1 last month from a 55 read in April.
On Tuesday, stocks closed in the red, with the Dow and S&P 500 halting a three-session winning streak that had both benchmarks hitting record highs.
—By CNBC's Kate Gibson
Coming Up This Week:
THURSDAY: Challenger job-cut report, jobless claims, Fed's Kocherlakota speaks, chain store sales, ECB mtg; Earnings from JM Smuckers, Joy Global, Diamond Foods
FRIDAY: Nonfarm payrolls, consumer credit, Wal-Mart shareholders mtg
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