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Weak US jobs data keeps stock markets in check

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2014 file photo, people pass a Wall Street subway stop, in New York's Financial District. Stocks are little changed in early trading Tuesday, May 5, 2015, following two days of gains that brought the market close to a record high. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Weak U.S. economic reports kept stocks in check on Wednesday, though European markets continued to trade higher and Wall Street was expected to rise on the open. Asian markets closed lower earlier.

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KEEPING SCORE: Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.3 percent to 6,945.08 and Germany’s DAX rose 0.8 percent to 11,415.34. France’s CAC 40 gained 0.5 percent to 4,998.89. Futures showed that Wall Street was set to recoup part of the previous day’s losses. S&P500 futures and Dow futures both climbed 0.3 percent.

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US EVENTS: U.S. payroll processor ADP said company hiring slowed in April to its weakest pace in nearly a year and a half, as a strong dollar dragged down overseas sales and energy companies cut back on spending in the face of lower oil prices. A separate report showed U.S. worker productivity declined in the first three months of the year as labor costs jumped, reflecting a slowdown in growth.

Later, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks on “finance and society” at the International Monetary Fund. While markets are not expecting a big surprise in her speech, analysts will pay close attention for any signals about the timing of the Fed’s first rate hike this year.

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ASIA’S DAY: South Korea’s Kospi fell 1.3 percent to 2,104.58 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 sank 2.3 percent to 5,692.20. Stocks in Southeast Asia were also lower. Chinese markets, which briefly rebounded from their biggest drop in months on Tuesday, failed to sustain the gains. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.4 percent to 27,640.91 and China’s Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.6 percent to 4,229.27. Japan was closed for a holiday.

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GREECE: A standoff in talks between Greece and its lenders is keeping investors in Europe on edge. Top officials in the European Union said they are making progress on finding a way to keep the country afloat and in the 19-nation eurozone. But a firm deal to give Greece more money is not expected by May 12, when Greece will have to make a 750 million euro repayment to the International Monetary Fund. The country will have to scrounge for cash from reserves.

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ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude jumped $1.44 to $61.84 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude oil climbed above $60 a barrel for the first time this year on Tuesday following reports that a Libyan oil terminal had closed. The contract jumped $1.47 to finish at $60.40 a barrel on Tuesday.

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CURRENCIES: The dollar weakened to 119.61 yen from 119.93 yen. The euro strengthened to $1.1268 from $1.1184.

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