NEW YORK — Stocks are fluctuating between small gains and losses today after a payroll company said U.S. companies pulled back on hiring last month.
Handbag and luxury accessory maker Coach slumped 2 percent. Protective Life Corp. jumped 18 percent on news that the company would be bought by the Japanese insurer Dai-ichi Life Insurance for $5.7 billion.
In economic news, payroll company ADP reported a pullback in hiring at private companies, and the U.S. trade deficit jumped to a two-year high.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged up two points, or 0.1 percent, to 1,926 as of noon today.
The Dow Jones industrial average was little changed at 16,724. The Nasdaq composite rose 15 points, or 0.4 percent, to 4,249.
The Nasdaq got a boost from Apple, its biggest component.