NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks edged higher Wednesday after a trade group reported that the U.S. service sector continued to grow in September. Private company hiring also increased.

The Institute of Supply Management said its gauge of the U.S. service sector, which employs 90 percent of the work force, grew for the 22nd consecutive month. The index measures the strength of health care providers, banks, real estate, and other businesses outside of manufacturing.

Payroll processor ADP said private companies added 91,000 jobs last month. That was a slight gain from August. ADP's figures do not always predict what the government's broad employment report, which will be released Friday, but they can often influence traders' expectations.

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