* U.S. ISM services index slightly exceeds forecast
* Euro zone’s major economies in decline -surveys
* Dow up 0.01 pct, S&P 500 up 0.2 pct, Nasdaq 0.1 pct (Updates to early afternoon)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, June 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks inched higher in choppy trade on Tuesday as investor angst about the euro zone’s fiscal crisis was offset by data showing the U.S. economy’s services sector grew slightly faster than expected in May.
The pace of growth in the U.S. services sector picked up in May as a gauge of new orders improved, according to an industry report released on Tuesday. The Institute for Supply Management’s services index edged up to 53.7 in May from 53.5 in April, a touch above economists’ forecast for it to hold steady.
The ISM data let investors breathe a brief sigh of relief from recent economic reports, which coupled with concerns about the euro zone, drove the S&P 500 down more than 6 percent for May.
“Banging around here, flat to down, flat to up - it feels like a little bit of a home run, to be honest,” said Mark Lehmann, director of equities at JMP Securities in San Francisco.
“The facts are telling you what we all know. There are a lot of places where there is weakness in our economy and others. With most things financially related, confidence is the game ... and if you can restore confidence, things get better quickly.”
Concerns about an escalation of the euro zone’s debt crisis kept a weight on the market, however, and served to cap gains.
Spain’s Treasury Minister Cristobal Montoro said the nation’s high borrowing costs has effectively shut the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy out of the bond market and the European Union should help Madrid recapitalize its debt-laden banks.
Statements on the outcome of emergency talks among the Group of Seven industrialized nations as they tackle the euro zone’s deepening crisis offered little clarity to investors. The Treasury Department said G7 finance ministers “reviewed developments in the global economy and financial markets and the policy response under consideration.”
Japan’s finance minister said he told G7 members that Japan is confident in Europe’s response to its problems, but indicated Tokyo was prepared to intervene in order to curb its currency.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 1.44 points, or 0.01 percent, to 12,102.90. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 2.28 points, or 0.18 percent, to 1,280.46. The Nasdaq Composite Index added 2.11 points, or 0.08 percent, to 2,762.12.
In the euro zone, most major economies are now in various states of decline, according to business surveys that suggested even Germany is no longer immune to the crisis.
The S&P financial sector index rose 1.3 percent, leading gains among the 10 major S&P 500 sectors. The financial sector index, however, is down more than 12 percent since the start of May.
Shares of JPMorgan Chase & Co rose 2.7 percent to $32.85, while Bank of America Corp added 2.5 percent to $7.07 and Citigroup advanced 2.9 percent to $25.53.
On the downside, Dollar General Corp shares dropped 2.8 percent to $47.15 after the company said key shareholders plan to sell up to 25 million shares. (Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)