Stocks on Wall Street edged lower after a day of fluctuation between gains and losses as global markets remained focused on a rescue plan debt-strapped Greece.
Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke also unsettled some investors with his comments that interest rates woud have to rise in the near future,
French daily newspaper Le Monde reported that euro zone finance ministers were planning to discuss the Greek situation during a conference call. But a German government official told Dow Jones Newswires no decision was expected.
In New York, a heavy blizzard reduced trading volumes as the city came to a standstill and many workers were told to stay home.
Stocks fell sharply early and clawed their way back only to slip into the red again in the final hour.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 20.26 points, or 0.2%, lower at 10,038.38.
Walt Disney was the measure's worst performer. The media giant fell 1.2% after releasing disappointing first-quarter earnings, weighed by declines in its theme-park and consumer units.
The Dow's financial components were the strongest sector, with JP Morgan Chase up 1.3% and Bank of America up 0.7%. General Electric also climbed, up 1%.
The S&P 500-share index fell 0.2% to 1068.13, with financials the only sector in the black. Materials and energy led the declines.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was down 0.1% at 2147.87.
Share prices rose in Canada and Europe. In Toronto, the S&P/TSX Composite Index added 12.09 points, or 0.1%, to 11,286.33.
In Europe, the Stoxx 600 Index gained 0.6% to 240.7. The UK's FTSE 100 Index ended up 0.4% at 5132.0, France's CAC-40 Index increased 0.6% to 3635.6 and Germany's DAX increased 0.7% to 5536.4.
Major Asian markets advanced on improved risk appetite and drove resources and shipping stocks higher across the region.
Japan's Nikkei 225 ended up 0.3%, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.2%, South Korea's Kospi ended flat, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.7%, China's Shanghai Composite rose 1.1% and Taiwan's Taiex climbed 1.1%.
Commodities: Oil, gold down
Crude futures initially fell as the dollar rose on Mr Bernanke's comments outlining credit-tightening plans.
Light, sweet crude for March delivery then recovered to settle 77USc up at $US74.52 a barrel in New York.
Gold futures fell as investors exited riskier assets and bought the US dollar.
April gold settled 90USc lower at $US1076.30 an ounce in New York.
Currencies: Euro down, dollar up
The euro slumped below $US1.37 as investors sought the safety of the dollar and yen.
The UK pound was the biggest loser among the major currencies after a Bank of England official suggested the government bond-buying programmes, which the bank paused last week, could be restarted if the economy needed further stimulus.
The euro has recovered some ground to $US1.3741, after trading as low as $US1.3678, but is still weaker than the $US1.3780 of late Tuesday in New York.
The dollar strengthened somewhat to ¥89.88 from ¥89.61. The euro moved to ¥123.50 from ¥123.49 .
The UK pound weakened to $US1.5604 from $US1.5704.
Thu, 11 Feb 2010