US STOCKS-Wall St opens higher on strong labor market data
* June ADP employment number rises to 172,000 vs est 159,000
* Weekly jobless claims fall to 254,000 vs est 270,000
* Indexes up: Dow 0.2 pct, S&P 0.26 pct, Nasdaq 0.39 pcts (Updates to open)
By Yashaswini Swamynathan
July 7 (Reuters) - Wall Street opened higher on Thursday as strong private sector employment data and a drop in jobless claims pointed to a steadying labor market ahead of the monthly payrolls report on Friday.
The ADP national employment report showed that 172,000 jobs were added in the private sector in June, compared to economists' expectation of 159,000.
The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits also fell unexpectedly last week, confirming that the labor market remains on solid footing despite tepid job gains in May.
Claims fell to 254,000 in the week ended July 2, compared with expectations of 270,000.
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