Global stocks were mixed Tuesday amid somewhat better investor sentiment ahead of a closely-watched US inflation report.
European stocks retreated, losing momentum after scoring solid gains on Monday. US stocks also appeared headed for another day of declines, but swung into positive territory at midday.
Asian equities advanced, following the positive action Monday in the US and Europe.
"It feels better than yesterday," said FTN Financial chief economist Chris Low, while noting that volatility remains elevated.
"We'll still have ups and downs and in the next week or two, we could retest the lows. But it feels a little better."
David Madden at CMC Markets said there was little confidence in the recovery after bruising losses following a strong February 2 jobs report ignited fears about inflation.
"Dealers don't know which way to turn as uncertainty persists, and a lack of direction is adding to the fear that we could see another sell-off," he said.
Analysts are looking ahead to Wednesday's report on US consumer prices, which could inflame or defuse anxiety that rising inflation will spur the Federal Reserve to hasten interest rate hikes.
"The market is trying to find a positive equilibrium, and if we can get through this week's critical US (inflation data) relatively unscathed, then it would most certainly look as if last week was little more than a corrective episode rather than the commencement of a bear market," said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at Oanda trading group.
On currency markets, the dollar continued to struggle against the yen, with investors seeking solace in the haven Japanese unit. The pound and euro also were stronger against the greenback.
"Underlying dollar sentiment remains bearish as economic optimism abroad dominates the spotlight," said Joe Manimbo, senior market analyst at Western Union Business Solutions.
He noted that Wednesday's inflation report also will be scrutinized by foreign exchange traders.
"Any surprise increase in inflation could catalyze another stock market selloff to the benefit of haven currencies like the dollar and yen," Manimbo said.
US oil prices declined after the International Energy Agency spotlighted surging production of shale due to higher prices as a source of pressure for the oil market.
Key figures around 2130 GMT
New York - DOW: UP 0.2 percent at 24,640.45 (close)
New York - S&P 500: UP 0.3 percent at 2,662.94 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.5 percent at 7,013.51 (close)
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.1 percent at 7,168.01 points (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.7 percent at 12,196.50 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: DOWN 0.6 percent at 5,109.24 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.7 percent at 3,344.23
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.7 percent at 21,244.68 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.3 percent at 29,839.53 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.0 percent at 3,184.96 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2400 from $1.2291 at 2200 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3890 from $1.3837
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 107.83 yen from 108.64 yen
Oil - Brent North Sea: UP 13 cents at $62.72 per barrel
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 10 cents at $59.19 per barrel