U.S. stocks rose for the first time in four days, amid better-than-estimated earnings from technology companies while services-industry data indicated the economy is on track for faster growth.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index rose 0.3 percent to 2,099.91. at 4 p.m. in New York, after slipping 0.7 percent over the previous three sessions.
Investors are watching economic reports to gauge when the Federal Reserve will increase interest rates, a decision it has forecast for this year. Data today showed service providers from restaurants to real estate agencies expanded in July at the strongest pace in a decade, putting the U.S. economy on track for faster growth. The share of services companies boosting employment was the highest since records began in 1997.
A separate report Wednesday from ADP Research Institute said companies added fewer workers than expected to payrolls in July, casting doubt on whether labor-market gains can accelerate beyond this year's current pace. The government's monthly job report on Friday is projected to show employers took on 225,000 workers last month, while the jobless rate held at a seven-year low of 5.3 percent.
Fed Governor Jerome Powell said there is more labor-market slack in the economy than the jobless rate indicates, during an interview on CNBC. He also said financial assets aren't in bubble territory, and reiterated that a shallow path for rate increases would be appropriate.
Investors are also weighing corporate earnings for hints on the economy's health. Four out of five S&P 500 members have reported results this season, with about three-quarters beating profit estimates and half topping sales projections. Analysts now call for a 2.8 percent drop in second-quarter earnings, shallower than July 10 estimates for a 6.4 percent fall.
Equities earlier pared gains as energy companies erased an increase and raw-material shares trimmed their advance. Oil fell to a four-month low, after rallying 2 percent, amid signs of ample crude stockpiles.