NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are slightly lower Wednesday morning as energy companies and makers of chemicals and other materials take the biggest losses. A survey of private employers showed that hiring continued at a solid pace in August, but stocks are wrapping up a quiet month.
KEEPING SCORE: The Dow Jones industrial average fell 20 points, or 0.1 percent, to 18,434 as of 10:07 a.m. Eastern time. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gave up 3 points, or 0.2 percent, to 2,172. The Nasdaq composite dipped 5 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,218.
JOBS DATA: Private U.S. businesses added 177,000 jobs in August, according to a survey by payroll processor ADP. After weak hiring this spring, results from July and August suggest employers are bringing on workers at a healthy clip. The federal government will release its own jobs figures on Friday, and analysts expect a gain of 180,000 jobs. Investors think the Federal Reserve is more likely to raise interest rates later this year if hiring stays solid.
TAXED: Tax preparer H&R Block reported a bigger first-quarter loss and less revenue than analysts expected. The company recently sold its bank business, which reduced revenue. H&R Block stock dropped $2.48, or 10.2 percent, to $21.72.
WHISKEY SOUR: Brown-Forman, the maker of liquors including Jack Daniel's whiskey and Finlandia vodka, slumped after its sales fell short of estimates. Brown-Forman said its results were hurt by weak sales in emerging markets and the strong dollar, which makes U.S. goods more expensive overseas. The stock declined $2.25, or 4.5 percent, to $48.08.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 42 cents to $45.93 a barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price oil internationally, fell 53 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $48.20 a barrel in London.
DOG DAYS OF SUMMER: Stocks have fallen four of the last five days, but they're still not far from record highs. The S&P 500 has risen for five months in a row but is now down slightly in August. The biggest losses have gone to phone and utility companies, while concerns over drug pricing have affected health care stocks. Banks have risen the most as investors grow more optimistic that interest rates will increase.
BONDS, CURRENCIES: Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note declined to 1.56 percent from 1.57 percent. The dollar rose to 103.33 yen from 102.97 yen. The euro fell to $1.1143 from $1.1139.
EUROPEAN VIEW: Economic data was relatively downbeat, suggesting the currency bloc's central bank could soon do the opposite of the Fed: give more stimulus. Inflation in the eurozone was stuck at a low 0.2 percent annual rate in August and unemployment also showed no improvement at 10.1 percent.
OVERSEAS: France's CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent and the DAX in Germany inched down 0.1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.2 percent. Earlier, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1 percent as investors were cheered by a stronger dollar, which helps Japanese exporters. South Korea's Kospi lost 0.3 percent and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was down 0.2 percent.
AP Markets Writer Marley Jay can be reached at http://twitter.com/MarleyJayAP . His work can be found at http://bigstory.ap.org/journalist/marley-jay