NEW YORK (AP) -- U.S. stocks held steady in Wednesday morning trading, following sharp drops for markets around the world. Coming off its first three-day losing streak since the summer, the Standard & Poor's 500 index flipped between small gains and losses in the first half hour of trading.
The recent losses have been relatively gentle, and the S&P 500 is still up more than 17 percent for 2017. This year has been unusually calm and easy for investors, with steady and strong gains. If the S&P 500 finishes the day lower, it would mark its longest losing streak since January.
KEEPING SCORE: The S&P 500 was virtually flat at 2,630, as of 10 a.m. Eastern time. It had flipped between a loss of 0.2 percent and a gain of 0.1 percent earlier in the morning.
The Dow Jones industrial average was steady at 24,180, and the Nasdaq composite was up 15, or 0.2 percent, at 6,777. Slightly more stocks fell on the New York Stock Exchange than rose.
MARKETS ABROAD: Asian markets slumped sharply earlier in the day, and Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 2 percent for its worst day since March. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 2.1 percent, and South Korea's Kospi lost 1.4 percent.
In Europe, the losses were more muted. Germany's DAX dropped 1 percent, and France's CAC 40 lost 0.4 percent. The FTSE 100 in London rose 0.3 percent.
ECONOMY: The main drivers for the stock market much of this year have been the improving global economy and a resulting jump in profits for businesses. A report on Wednesday implied that the U.S. job market continues to strengthen.
Private employers added 190,000 jobs last month, according to a report from payroll processor ADP. Economists see the report as a relatively good indication of what the more comprehensive federal government's jobs tally will show.
That report arrives on Friday, and it will be one of the last pieces of major economic data released before the Federal Reserve's meeting next week on interest rates. Most economists expect the Fed to raise rates, which would be the third increase of the year.
YIELDS: Treasury yields sank as prices for government bonds rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 2.31 percent from 2.35 percent late Tuesday. The two-year yield sank to 1.80 percent from 1.83 percent, and the 30-year yield fell to 2.70 percent from 2.73 percent.
CURRENCIES: The dollar dipped to 112.25 Japanese yen from 112.62 yen late Monday. The euro fell to $1.1794 from $1.1816, and the British pound slipped to $1.3370 from $1.3442.
COMMODITIES: Benchmark U.S. crude lost 86 cents, or 1.5 percent, to $56.74. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 89 cents to $61.97.
Gold ticked up by $3.30 to $1,268.20 per ounce, and silver rose a penny to $16.08 per ounce. Copper recovered a fraction of its sharp loss from the day before and rose 4 cents to $2.98 per pound.