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Stocks edge higher as hiring surges in June; Constellation Brands climbs after earnings

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NEW YORK, N.Y. - Stocks edged higher Wednesday following a report that business hiring surged in June, a promising sign for economic growth. The report comes a day after news of stronger manufacturing in the U.S. and China helped push the stock market to another all-time high.

KEEPING SCORE: The Standard and Poor's 500 index rose one point, or 0.1 per cent, to 1,974 as of 11:16 a.m. in New York. The Dow Jones industrial average climbed three points, or less than 0.1 per cent, to 16,959. Both the S&P 500 and the Dow are trading at record highs. The Nasdaq composite fell one point, or 0.1 per cent, to 4,457.

JOBS: ADP, a payroll processer, said businesses added 281,000 jobs last month, up from 179,000 in the previous month. The figure suggests the government's jobs report, due out Thursday, could also show a significant gain from May's tally of 217,000 jobs. The ADP survey only looks at the private sector, however, and often diverges from the government's more comprehensive report.

THE QUOTE: "The economy is on an upward trend and that bodes well for the stock market," said Ed Hyland, a global investment specialist at a JPMorgan Private Bank. "Corporate earnings will continue to grow as the economy grows."

BOTTOMS UP: Constellation Brands, the owner of the Corona and Negra Modelo beer brands, jumped $2.98, or 3.4 per cent, to $91.39 after the company said its fiscal first-quarter net income soared. The earnings exceed the expectations of Wall Street analysts.

A DEAL: Kroger, a supermarket chain, announced plans to buy the online vitamin seller Vitacost.com in a $280 million deal. Cincinnati-based Kroger said it will pay $8 per share in cash for Vitacost.com, a 27 per cent premium over its closing price of $6.28 on Tuesday. Vitacost.com jumped $1.71, or 27 per cent, to $7.99.

BUYBACK PUSH: Monsanto rose $2.75, or 2.2 per cent, to $127 after the company said late Tuesday that it had entered into an "accelerated share repurchase" agreement with JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs. Under the terms of the agreement the company will buy back $6 billion of its own stock.

BONDS AND COMMODITIES: Government bond prices fell. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note, which moves opposite to its price, rose to 2.61 per cent from 2.57 on Tuesday. The price of oil dropped 64 cents, or 0.6 per cent, to $104.69.

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