A pair of encouraging economic reports helped nudge the stock market higher Wednesday. Measures of business activity in the service sector and job growth last month came in better than economists had expected.
The market's gains were held in check by a slump in energy stocks and Hewlett-Packard's 13 percent plunge. In a meeting with analysts and investors, Meg Whitman, HP's chief executive, predicted weak earnings and sales for the foreseeable future.
"The price action today seems boring, but the economic data is pretty strong," said Ryan Detrick, senior technical strategist at Schaeffer's Investment Research.
The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.49 percent to 3,135.23.
Trading could remain calm this week while investors look ahead to the government's monthly jobs report Friday and a new round of quarterly corporate earnings reports next week.
Economists expect the unemployment rate will have edged up to 8.2 percent in September from 8.1 percent in August. And the unofficial start to the earnings season starts Tuesday when the aluminum company Alcoa posts its results.