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Stocks inch higher after employment survey

NEW YORK - Stocks held close to a record after a private survey showed that U.S. companies increased hiring at a rapid pace. The report is the latest sign that the economy is strengthening after an unusually harsh winter.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index was little changed at 1,885. The index is at an all-time high. The Dow Jones industrial average rose one point to 16,524. The Nasdaq composite fell three points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,265.

A private survey showed that U.S. companies increased hiring at a rapid pace last month. Payroll processer ADP said Wednesday that private employers added 191,000 jobs in March. ADP also revised February's job creation up to 153,000 from an originally reported 139,000. The report comes ahead of the government's monthly jobs report, scheduled to be released on Friday.

The S&P 500 closed at a record on Tuesday after the Institute for Supply Management said its manufacturing index rose to 53.7 in March, up from 53.2 in February. Readings above 50 indicate expansion. The Commerce Department reported separately that orders to U.S. factories rose 1.6 percent in February, the most in five months.

Apollo education fell $2.71, or 7.8 percent, to $32.44 after the company reported earnings that fell short of investor's expectations. The company said that new student enrollment at its University of Phoenix fell, shrinking 16.5 percent to 250,300.

MannKind soared $3.03, or 74 percent, to $7.03 after FDA advisers voted unanimously to recommend approval of the drug Afrezza, a fast-acting insulin, for patients with the most common form of diabetes. MannKind has no products on the market and lost more than $191 million last year.

Government bonds fell after the ADP report. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note climbed to 2.78 percent from 2.75 percent. The price of oil fell 64 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $99.10 a barrel. Gold rose $11.40, or 0.9 percent, to $1,291.20.

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