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S&P ends at new record on strong services sector growth data

A street sign for Wall Street hangs in front of the New York Stock Exchange May 8, 2013. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/Files

By Angela Moon

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks edged up on Wednesday with the S&P 500 ending at a new record as investors brushed off weaker-than-expected labor market data and focused on an acceleration in services-sector growth.

But trading volume continued to be light as investors took a wait-and-see approach ahead of the European Central Bank policy meeting on Thursday and the U.S. government's May nonfarm payrolls report on Friday.

"Today's ADP (employment) figures were not enough to provide a direction for Friday's numbers," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Group in Bedford Hills, New York.

"We need a better indication of how the economy is really doing for the market to show a notable move."

The Institute for Supply Management's non-manufacturing index showed that growth in the U.S. services sector accelerated more than expected in May and rose at the fastest pace in nine months. The ADP National Employment Report showed that fewer private-sector jobs were added in May than had been anticipated.

Among the day's biggest gainers were U.S. solar companies after the United States slapped new import duties on solar panels and other related products from China in a preliminary determination. First Solar (FSLR.O) rose 3.9 percent to $65.39.

Semiconductor stocks also ranked among the market's leaders with Skyworks Solutions (SWKS.O) up 2.4 percent at $46.76 and Broadcom Corp (BRCM.O) up 3.3 percent at $37.07.

The Dow Jones industrial average (.DJI) rose 15.19 points or 0.09 percent, to 16,737.53, the S&P 500 (.SPX) gained 3.64 points or 0.19 percent, to 1,927.88 and the Nasdaq Composite (.IXIC) added 17.56 points or 0.41 percent, to 4,251.64.

The CBOE Volatility Index (.VIX) jumped 1.8 percent to 12.08, its third straight daily advance. But the index, considered the market's fear gauge, was still well below the historical average of 20, a trend that some interpret as a sign that investors have become complacent.

In company news, Protective Life (PL.N) surged 18.1 percent to $69.36 in heavy trading after Japan's Dai-ichi Life Insurance Co agreed to buy the company for $5.7 billion.

The stock of Tibco Software Inc (TIBX.O) was one of the Nasdaq's most active, slumping 5.4 percent to $19.66 a day after the company gave a second-quarter outlook sharply below expectations.

NQ Mobile Inc (NQ.N) soared 30.9 percent to $9.99, its biggest one-day advance ever, rising on heavy volume after the Chinese mobile security software maker said a special committee had found no evidence of fraud, following an accusation made by short-seller Muddy Waters Research Group.

Trading volume was light at around 5 billion shares on U.S. exchanges, below last month's average of 5.75 billion, according to data from BATS Global Markets.

(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)