Wall Street was mixed as better-than-expected US trade data offset rising concern Russia might invade Ukraine on a "humanitarian" pretext.
Tension in Ukraine is building. Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimea region in March, has amassed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on Ukraine's eastern border, according to NATO.
"We're not going to guess what's on Russia's mind, but we can see what Russia is doing on the ground - and that is of great concern," NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said in an emailed statement, Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, investors received promising signs about the pace of recovery in the US. A report showing the US trade deficit narrowed more than expected in June underpinned optimism that the world's largest economy continues to gather steam.
"The improvement in June could mean a modest upward revision to the second-quarter GDP estimate," Millan Mulraine, deputy chief economist at TD Securities in New York, told Reuters. "It also implies a fairly strong hand-off to third-quarter GDP."
Wall Street was little changed, following Tuesday's drop. In afternoon trading in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average eked out a 0.01 percent gain, as did the Standard & Poor's 500 Index, while the Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.18 percent.
In the Dow, gains in Procter & Gamble and General Electric, both up 1.7 percent, offset declines in shares of Boeing and AT&T, down 2.6 percent and 1.7 percent respectively.
Shares of Time Warner plunged, last down 12.3 percent, after Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox withdrew its unsolicited takeover offer for the company. Shares of Fox climbed 3.2 percent.
"Time Warner management and its board refused to engage with us to explore an offer which was highly compelling," CEO Rupert Murdoch said in a statement. "Additionally, the reaction in our share price since our proposal was made undervalues our stock and makes the transaction unattractive to Fox shareholders."
Time Warner's latest quarterly results, which exceeded expectations, failed to assuage its shareholders. Fox is set to release its latest results after the closing bell.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index ended the session with a 0.9 percent slide from the previous close. The UK's FTSE 100 Index fell 0.7 percent, as did Germany's DAX. France's CAC 40 fell 0.6 percent.
Here, the latest data highlighted ongoing concern about the strength of the recovery in euro-zone economies.
A report showed that German factory orders unexpectedly fell in June, sliding 3.2 percent, while in Italy a report showed that the country's gross domestic product unexpectedly shrank in the second quarter, contracting 0.2 percent.
That's the second contraction in as many quarters for Italy, indicating the country has fallen back into recession amid signs the government is struggling to enact the structural changes needed to bolster its longer-term prospects.
Those reports arrived just in time before European Central Bank policy makers gather on Thursday.
"Evidence is mounting that risks to the ECB's economic outlook are to the downside," Joerg Kraemer, chief economist at Commerzbank in Frankfurt, told Bloomberg News.
This article is tagged with the following keywords. Find out more about MyNBR Tags
Most listened to
- BNZ's Jason Wong says the movements in the currency market last week were some of the biggest in history
- CBL's Peter Harris on uncertain times in the UK insurance industry
- Govt performing an awkward political U-turn on foreign trusts. Rob Hosking with John Shewan and John Key
- Trade Minister Todd McClay says plans for an FTA with the EU will not be hindered by the Brexit
- Oxford University academic Malcolm McCulloch predicts the imminent death of the internal combustion engine