US STOCKS-Wall St edges higher as energy and bank shares gain
* Private payrolls data beats estimates
* Monsanto falls after cutting profit forecast
* Indexes up: Dow 0.05 pct, S&P 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.05 pct (Updates to afternoon)
By Rodrigo Campos
March 2 (Reuters) - Stocks were slightly higher on Wall Street on Wednesday as gains in energy and banks buoyed the S&P 500.
The choppy trading near the unchanged level for the day left indexes holding on to major gains posted on Tuesday.
Concern lingered that the U.S. economy was on a weaker footing than thought, but recent data including a better-than-expected reading on private sector job creation last month has helped dispel those concerns.
The improvement in U.S. economic data, including manufacturing, construction spending and auto sales earlier this week, rekindled expectations that the Federal Reserve could raise rates at least once later this year, giving support to bank shares.
"I've been encouraged by the economic numbers," said Gary Bradshaw, portfolio manager of Hodges Capital Management in Dallas, citing jobs and manufacturing data. Continuación...