By Rodrigo Campos
NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were little changed on Wednesday after two days of sharp swings as investors shrugged off soft data on jobs and the services sector, while keeping an eye on developments in Ukraine.
U.S. private employers added fewer workers than expected in February while the services sector continued to grow, albeit at a slower pace. A harsh winter has allowed traders to dismiss what appears to be a soft patch of data, making the market susceptible to a large pullback if the trend of weakness in data continues.
Market participants kept a close eye on developments out of Ukraine, following the most serious confrontation between Russia and the West over influence in Kiev and control of Crimea. A global investing flight to safety on Monday reversed sharply on Tuesday. Markets were calmer on Wednesday, but volatility was expected given the fluid situation in Ukraine.
"The market needs to re-calibrate after the sort of volatility we saw earlier this week, and we're seeing that today," said Peter Kenny, chief executive of financial technology company Clearpool Group in New York.
"We're left to the mercy of developments in Ukraine," he said, noting the news on Wednesday did not remove the uncertainty surrounding the situation in the Crimean peninsula.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 24.43 points, or 0.15 percent, to 16,371.45, the S&P 500 gained 0.97 points, or 0.05 percent, to 1,874.88 and the Nasdaq Composite added 5.379 points, or 0.12 percent, to 4,357.351.
Financial stocks led the S&P 500, with Bank of America up 2.8 percent to $17.19 and Morgan Stanley up 2.2 percent to $31.79.
Clearpool's Kenny said the strength in bank stocks pointed to expectations for sustainable economic growth ahead.
Honeywell International hit an all time intraday high of $95.85 after it set a target of increasing overall company sales to more than $50 billion by 2018 as it spends $10 billion on acquisitions. Shares of the diversified manufacturer of aerospace parts and climate control and security systems were up 0.9 percent at $95.47.
Canadian Solar Inc slumped 9.1 percent to $39.68 after the solar panel maker warned of a drop in revenue this quarter as about $100 million in sales were deferred after a severe winter.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum)
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