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U.S. stocks were set to open higher Wednesday, as investors considered two job reports: one that showed fewer planned job cuts and one that showed an increase in private sector employment.
Before the opening bell, one report showed that employers announced fewer planned job cuts in March, even as government sector layoffs mounted.
A second report showed private sector employment rose by 201,000 in March, according to payroll processor ADP. The figure came in slightly below forecasts but remained above 200,000. Investors look to the ADP report as a guide for what's coming in Friday's government report.
U.S. stocks finished near session highs Tuesday, thanks to solid gains in telecommunication and retail stocks including AT&T (T) and Verizon (VZ).
Companies: Shares of Family Dollar (FDO) rose nearly 3% after the discount retailer reported slightly better-than-expected sales and earnings, and said it's on track to continue growing, albeit at a measured pace.
Shares of Cephalon (CEPH) surged 31% in premarket trading after specialty pharmaceutical firm Valeant (VRX) launched a hostile bid for the U.S. drugmaker.
Private equity firm Apollo Global (APO) will likely get an early boost. The firm priced its initial public offering at $19 a share -- the top end of its expected range. The offering drew strong demand.
BlackRock's (BLK) stock rose more than 5%. The investment firm is replacing Genzyme (GENZ) on the S&P 500.
Oil for May delivery slid 44 cents to $104.35 a barrel.
Gold futures for April delivery rose/fell $2.10 to $1,418.30 an ounce.
The price on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury was steady, with the yield unchanged from Tuesday at 3.49%.