Late buying pushed European stock markets to close modestly higher Wednesday but investors around the world remained focused on key economic news emerging in the next few days about the pace of the global economic recovery.
Meanwhile, gold fell modestly from its all-time high as the dollar clawed back some ground.
In Europe, the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares closed up 15.22 points, or 0.3 percent, at 5,327.39 while Germany's DAX rose 5.07 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,781.68. The CAC-40 in France was up 20.18 points, or 0.5 percent, to 3,795.92.
In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was down 10.58 points, or 0.1 percent, at 10,461 around midday New York time while the broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.4 point to 1,109.26.
Markets are awaiting a raft of economic news over the coming couple of days, including Thursday's monetary policy meeting of the European Central Bank and Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for November. The jobs data often set the tone in the markets for a week or two.
If investors conclude the U.S. economy is losing steam, then that could pave the way for a bout of profit-taking following an eight-month bull run. Further evidence of a strong U.S. economic recovery could yield more buying.
The main piece of economic data Wednesday was that private sector employers in the U.S. shed 169,000 jobs in November, according to the ADP payrolls firm. Though that was slightly worse than market expectations, October's job losses were revised downward.
As a result, there was little change in market expectations for Friday's government payrolls data _ the consensus is that November U.S. non-farm payrolls fell by around 120,000 but that the unemployment rate held steady at a 26-year high of 10.2 percent.
So far this week, investor jitters related to Dubai's debt problems have calmed down amid hopes that Dubai World, the government investment company, will have around $26 billion worth of its debts restructured. Last week, the company _ with a total of $60 billion worth of debt _ sent shockwaves around global financial markets when it said it was looking to postpone forthcoming debt payments until May.
The hope in the markets is that Dubai's problems will not affect the global financial. However commercial stocks underperformed once again Wednesday, with Commerzbank AG for example, the biggest faller on the DAX.
"While Dubai World's debt doubts don't seem to have caused the full-scale panic that was perhaps feared, traders still seem slightly hesitant about the entire financial sector," said David Jones, chief market strategist at IG Index.
Earlier, Asian stocks powered ahead as they responded to the continuing recovery in Europe and the U.S. On Tuesday, stocks were helped by an easing of tensions related to Dubai's debt problems and further encouraging U.S. economic data, particularly from the housing sector.
Tokyo shares closed nearly 1 percent higher as investors gave a muted thumbs-up to the Bank of Japan's new measures to offer cheap loans to commercial banks. The Nikkei 225 stock average was up 36.74 points, or 0.4 percent, at 9,608.94.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 176.42, or 0.8 percent, to 22,289.57 and South Korea's Kospi jumped 21.91 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,591.63. Australia's benchmark advanced 0.9 percent and China's Shanghai index climbed 1.1 percent.
Oil prices slid toward $77 a barrel after a surprise rise in U.S. inventories, while gold slipped modestly as the dollar regained its composure _ gold is priced in dollars and typically trades inversely to the U.S. currency.
By late afternoon London time, oil was trading $1.30 lower at $77.07 while gold was up 1.1 percent on the day at $1,213.40, down from its new record of $1,218.40.
The dollar was up 0.6 percent on the day at 87.20 yen while the euro fell 0.2 percent at $1.5056, having earlier run up to $1.5110.
Currency traders are looking to see if the euro can rise back toward last week's 16-month high of $1.5144. If it does, then it could start to target its all-time highs above $1.60.
"There is potential in the short term for some further upside but with the European Central Bank meeting this week, there is bound to be some concern about the high level of the euro with respect to European exporters," said Michael Hewson, an analyst at CMC Markets.