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Stocks lower: Dow loses more than 100

The Dow is down triple digits Wednesday and the Nasdaq is shrinking further from 5000 as investors eye private-sector employment gains and await other jobs data. As of 11:14 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones industrial average and S&P 500 are each 0.6% lower or a little more. The Nasdaq composite is down 0.3% or slightly more. The Dow is off 119 points while the Nasdaq is 36 points below 5000.

Starting Wednesday, Wall Street gets a hat trick of job-related data that will shed light on whether the stormy winter weather, West Coast port strike and continued troubles in the oil patch took a bite out of the U.S. job-creation machine in February. The first of these, a pre-opening bell report from payroll processor ADP, shows that private employers hired 212,000 workers in February, adding more muscle to the frame of a growing U.S. labor force.

ADP’s figure is slightly below the 218,000 new jobs economists were expecting, but virtually inline with the 213,000 jobs created by the private sector in January, according to Bespoke Investment Group. The weekly read on first-time jobless claims comes Thursday. And the final and biggest data point, better known as the monthly jobs report, is set for release Friday. Wall Street expects a dip in new jobs to around 240,000, Bespoke says, down from 257,000 in January. The unemployment rate is expected to tick down to 5.6% from 5.7%.

Stocks ended down Tuesday, with the Nasdaq stumbling back below that magical 5000 threshold as investors took profits ahead of economic reports later in the week. European stocks are mixed. France’s CAC-40 is up 0.5%, Germany’s DAX is 0.1% higher and Britain’s FTSE 100 is off 0.1%. In Asia, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.59% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.96%. The Shanghai Composite gained 0.51%.