U.S. stocks were mixed on Wednesday, after the data showed that the U.S. private sector added the largest number of jobs since November 2012 last month, as investors remained cautious ahead of the minutes of the Federal Reserve''s latest policy meeting.

During early U.S. trade, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.19%, the S&P 500 index eased 0.05%, while the Nasdaq Composite index inched 0.02% higher.

ADP nonfarm payrolls rose by 238,000 in December, easily surpassing expectations for an increase of 200,000. November’s figure was revised up to a gain of 229,000 from a previously reported increase of 215,000.

The strong data bolstered the outlook for the recovery in the labor market going into 2014 ahead of Friday’s keenly anticipated jobs report for December.

Investors were awaiting the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s December meeting, due for release later Wednesday, for indications on the possible timing of further reductions in the bank’s stimulus program.

In the financial sector, JPMorgan Chase climbed 0.51% following reports it will have to pay USD2.6 billion to resolve criminal and civil allegations it failed to stop Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.

The deal brought the U.S. lender''s legal settlements from the past two years to more than USD29 billion.

Among tech stocks, Microsoft tumbled 1.15% after Alan Mulally, chief executive officer of Ford Motor, said he plans to stay with the automaker through 2014 and therefore join the software maker.

Adding to losses, healthcare company WellPoint slipped 0.12% after agreeing to sell the online contact-lens site 1-800-Contacts to private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners LP.

Elsewhere, Delta Air Linesgained 0.73% as it was forecast to experience fewer canceled flights on Wednesday thanks to warmer weather and as schedules began to return to normal after winter storms shut down more than 11,000 flights in four days.

Among earnings, Micron Technology reported quarterly revenue that beat expectations, sending shares up 11.10%.

Across the Atlantic, European stock markets were lower. The EURO STOXX 50 dipped 0.02%, France’s CAC 40 fell 0.20%, Germany''s DAX eased 0.08%, while Britain''s FTSE 100 slid 0.34%.

During the Asian trading session, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng Index rallied 1.25%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index jumped 1.94%.

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