Stocks slip as sluggish start to 2014 drags on

NEW YORK - The stock market stumbled Wednesday as investors waited for the government's jobs report later this week and the beginning of quarterly earnings releases from corporate America.

Traders put aside a positive report that showed private employers created more jobs in December than economists had expected. The market had a muted reaction to the minutes from the Federal Reserve's mid-December policy meeting.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 68.20 to close at 16,462.74. The S&P 500 index fell 0.39 to 1,837.49. The Nasdaq rose 12.43 to 4,165.61.

Fed reduced bond buys after seeing job gains

WASHINGTON - The Federal Reserve agreed last month to modestly reduce its bond purchases because of improvements in the job market that many Fed members felt would be sustained.

Many participants called the job gains "meaningful," according to the minutes. Still, minutes of the Dec. 18-19 meeting released Wednesday showed some participants worried that investors might misread the move as a step toward raising the Fed's key short-term interest rate. In response, the Fed said it plans to keep its short-term rate low "well past" the time the jobless rate fell below 6.5 percent, as long as inflation stayed low.

Survey: U.S. companies add 238K jobs for Dec.

WASHINGTON - A private survey shows U.S. businesses added the most jobs in a year in December, powered by a big gain in construction. The figures are the latest evidence that the economy gained momentum at the end of 2013.

Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that companies added 238,000 jobs in December, up slightly from 229,000 in the previous month. November's figures were revised higher. The report showed solid gains in higher-paying jobs. The ADP numbers cover only private businesses and often diverge from the government's more comprehensive report.

Consumer borrowings up $12.3B in November

WASHINGTON - Americans increased their borrowing in November, led by continued gains in auto and student loans.

The Federal Reserve said consumers increased their borrowing by $12.3 billion in November to a seasonally adjusted $3.09 trillion. That is a record level and follows an October increase of $17.9 billion.

Almost all of the November increase came from an $11.9 billion rise in borrowing for auto loans and student loans.

Nook head to fill CEO post at Barnes & Noble

NEW YORK - Book seller Barnes & Noble has promoted the head of its Nook business to chief executive of company. The struggling retailer said Wednesday Michael Huseby, 59, will take the role immediately. The post has been vacant since July when CEO William Lynch left the company.

Huseby will take the helm of the New York company as it struggles to turn around results in the face of tough competition and a book market that is shifting to digital books.

T-Mobile to cover fees for clients leaving rivals

LAS VEGAS - T-Mobile is aiming to lure subscribers from rival wireless carriers by paying any fees customers owe from breaking their service contracts with AT&T, Sprint or Verizon.

The announcement comes as the No. 4 wireless carrier also reports solid gains in subscribers. T-Mobile says it gained 1.6 million subscribers in the fourth quarter, as it continues to benefit from new pricing and other changes that broke industry conventions.

Wire reports