NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are off to a mixed start Wednesday morning. A survey of private business payrolls showed employers added the most jobs in three years in February, and banks are jumping as bond yields and interest rates move higher. Smaller, domestically-focused companies are also climbing as investors grow more confident that the economy will keep growing. High-dividend stocks are slumping.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 index was up a fraction at 2,368 as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 21 points, or 0.1 percent, to 20,905. The Nasdaq composite jumped rose 15 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,849 as health care and technology companies rose.
The Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 2 points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,377. Shares of smaller companies often outperform the broader market when investors expect quicker economic growth.
SURVEY SAYS: Payroll processor ADP said private businesses added 298,000 jobs in February thanks in part to big increases in construction and manufacturing jobs. The U.S. government will issue its own report on the broader jobs market Friday. U.S. employers added 261,000 jobs in January.
BONDS: Bond prices dropped. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note jumped to 2.56 percent from 2.52 percent. That took banks and other financial companies higher because they stand to make more money on mortgages and other loans as interest rates rise. Citigroup jumped $1.50, or 2.5 percent, to $62 and Regions Financial gained 28 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $15.46.
The Federal Reserve will meet next week and investors expect the central bank to raise interest rates for the first time since December.
Stocks that pay big dividends, like real estate investment trusts and utilities, stumbled. Those stocks are often compared to bonds because of their hefty payments to shareholders, but when bond yields rise, investors often sell those stocks so they can buy bonds instead. NRG Energy lost 43 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $16.68 and Realty Income dropped $1.55, or 2.6 percent, to $58.29.
BLOCK PARTY: H&R Block jumped after the tax preparer reported solid third-quarter results and said it's seeing good results early in tax season, the most important time of the year for the company. Block said it is seeing a smaller decrease in people who are filing their taxes online than its competitors are.
OUT OF FASHION: Urban Outfitters sank $1.52, or 6 percent, to $23.89 after analysts said they were disappointed with the retailer's forecasts for the new fiscal year.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 76 cents, or 1.4 percent, to $52.38 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 60 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $55.32 a barrel in London. Energy stocks continued to lag the rest of the market.
CURRENCY: The dollar rose to 114.51 yen from 114.05 yen. The euro slipped to $1.0557 from $1.0568.
OVERSEAS: The French CAC 40 rose 0.3 percent and the DAX in German gained 0.2 percent. The FTSE 100 in Britain rose 0.1 percent. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 index shed 0.5 percent and in Hong Kong the Hang Seng advanced 0.4 percent. The Kospi in South Korea was unchanged.
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