Dow Industrials Extend Record High On Jobs Data; Europe Retreats From 4 ½ Year High

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US indexes finished mostly higher with the Dow Jones Industrial Average extending its record high after a private report showed companies hired more workers than forecast and the Federal Reserve said the economy is growing.

Ahead of the opening bell, a report by Automatic Data Processing Inc. showed US companies added 198,000 workers in February, exceeding median estimates of a 170,000 rise. The upbeat data followed a revised 215,000 gain in the prior month from an earlier estimate of 192,000.

Separately, a Commerce Department report showed orders for US factories fell the most in five months in Jan., weighed down by a weak appetite for military hardware and commercial aircraft.

The US economy continues to grow at a modest to moderate pace across the country amid rising demand for homes and automobiles, the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book survey, an analysis and summary of economic conditions in 12 US districts. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke described the job market as generally weak in his testimony to a senate committee on Feb. 26.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) added 42 points to finish at a new record high of 14,296.24, a day after breaching the previous all-time high and setting a new record.

The S&P 500 Index (SPX) rose 2 points with financial, materials and health-care companies advancing the most among its 10 business sectors and leaving the benchmark index 24 points shy of its record high finish in October 2007.

Treasury prices fell, pushing 10-year note yields the most in three weeks after ADP Research Institute said private companies added more jobs than forecast last month, diminishing the allure of haven assets and spurring wagers US non-farm payroll data will show stronger hiring.

Meanwhile, the US dollar rose against majority of its 16 most-traded rivals Wednesday, finding support in better-than-expected private sector hiring in February.

Across the Atlantic, a late-session sell off pulled down European stocks from a 4 1/2-year high as companies posted earnings and data showed US factory orders declined in January even as investors awaited central banks meetings in Europe, Japan and the UK.

The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.3 percent to 293.38. The pan-European index had surged 1.8 percent yesterday after Services PMI data in the US and UK topped estimates amid expectations of further stimulus by central banks.

In Europe, a revised estimate for gross domestic product for the 17-member currency union confirmed a 0.6 percent contraction in the final three months of 2012, with France, Spain and Italy contributing to the decline. Additionally, trade data showed both imports and exports fell 0.9 percent in the final quarter.

National benchmark indexes slipped in 14 of the 18 western European markets.

Our Trend Tracking Indexes (TTIs) moved only slightly with the Domestic TTI finishing the day at +3.48% while the International TTI inched up to +9.99%.

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