* U.S. private sector jobs data widely beats forecasts
* Benchmark U.S. yields rise on jobs report
* Wall Street mostly gains, but Dow off slightly
* Crude oil falls on U.S. supply report
By Herbert Lash
NEW YORK, March 8 The dollar gained and stocks
on Wall Street mostly rose on Wednesday after U.S. private
sector hiring surged in February, underscoring the economy's
strength and adding to expectations the Federal Reserve will
raise interest rates next week.
The ADP National Employment Report showed private payrolls
grew by 298,000 jobs last month, well above economists'
expectations for a gain of 190,000. January's private payrolls
gains were revised up to 261,000 from 246,000.
The report raised expectations of a robust payrolls report
for February from the U.S. Labor Department on Friday.
Traders now see an 88.6-percent chance the Fed will raise
rates by 25 basis points at its policy-setting meeting on March
15, up from 81.9 percent on Tuesday, according to the CME
Group's FedWatch tool.
The ADP report led a gauge of global equity markets to pare
most losses and pushed European stocks higher.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index rose 0.23 percent
after declining the four previous sessions. MSCI's all-country
world stock index was off 0.08 percent.
The likelihood the Fed will raise rates has not spooked
investors, unlike the "taper tantrum" of 2013, because they
perceive the economy is strong enough to withstand a rate hike
and they see the need for a more normalized monetary policy.
"Even if the Fed raises rates next week, it would be to 75
basis points which is historically very low and is still
considered very easy money," said Adam Sarhan, chief executive
of 50 Park Investments in Orlando, Florida.
The benchmark S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite indexes rose,
while the Dow industrials fell, pulled lower by Caterpillar Inc
and Merck & Co.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 3.5 points, or
0.02 percent, to 20,921.26. The S&P 500 gained 2.97
points, or 0.13 percent, to 2,371.36 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 22.98 points, or 0.39 percent, to 5,856.91.
The dollar rose to its highest level in five days, just
below a two-month peak, while the euro fell to a five-day low
after the payrolls data and ahead of a meeting of the European
Central Bank on Thursday.
Traders and investors expect the ECB to maintain its loose
monetary policy despite rising inflationary pressures.
The dollar has rallied by about 2.5 percent against a basket
of major trading currencies over the past five weeks.
The dollar index gained 0.23 percent at 102.040. The
dollar rose 0.63 percent against the Japanese currency to
114.68 yen and it edged up 0.09 percent to $1.0556 versus the
Oil dropped further below $56 a barrel after an industry
report pointed to a large rise in U.S. crude inventories,
renewing oversupply concerns despite output curbs by the
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
U.S. crude inventories rose by a more-than-forecast 11.6
million barrels last week, data from industry group the American
Petroleum Institute (API) showed on Tuesday
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported on
Wednesday that crude stocks rose by 8.21 million barrels, up
from a forecast 1.9 million.
Brent crude, the international benchmark, was down
56 cents at $55.36 a barrel. U.S. crude fell 64 cents to
The strong gain in private sector jobs pushed U.S. Treasury
yields up, with benchmark yields hitting their highest levels
The 10-year Treasury yield hit 2.583 percent,
last seen on Dec. 20, before easing to 2.5651 percent, up more
than 5 basis points from late on Tuesday, according to Thomson
(Reporting by Herbert Lash; Editing by Nick Zieminski)