European stock markets were mixed Wednesday and Wall Street opened lower after sliding oil prices helped reverse gains a day earlier and investors reacted to disappointing results from Apple and Boeing.
Ahead of a US interest rate decision and in the wake of falling Chinese equities, shares on Frankfurt's DAX index slipped slightly, while Paris and London edged marginally upwards.
At around 1445 GMT, the Dax was 0.06 percent lower, while the CAC 40 rose 0.11 percent and the FTSE 100 was up by 0.24 percent.
Most Asian stocks pushed higher, aided by the falling oil prices that cut fuel costs for companies, with Shanghai standing alone, sinking 0.5 percent to extend Tuesday's heavy falls on fresh Chinese economic woes.
Investor sentiment was rattled by tech giant Apple's news of disappointing iPhone sales during October-December and Boeing shares also fell sharply on disappointing earnings forecasts.
Just after opening at around 1440 GMT, the Dow Jones was 0.74 percent lower.
Markets were also awaiting the outcome of the US Federal Reserve's latest monetary policy meeting, the first since the central bank implemented its first rate hike in almost a decade in December.
"Uncertainty ahead of this evening's US interest rate decision, disappointing Apple earnings and weakness in Chinese stocks after data showed declining industrial profits led to (falling) European markets," said CMC Markets analyst Jasper Lawler.
Traders are now focusing on the Fed, with speculation mounting that it will take a dovish stance on rates.
The Japanese central bank winds up its own two-day monetary policy gathering on Friday.
Shanghai stocks slid Wednesday on data showing that profits at China's industrial giants sank 4.7 percent last month, extending November's fall and highlighting ongoing economic weakness.
Over the whole year, profits dropped 2.3 percent, which analysts said marked the first contraction since 1998.
However, most other Asian stock markets swung back into positive territory, as the wild swings that have marked the start of the year showed no signs of abating.
Experts said the volatility that has stalked world trading floors this year was unlikely to end any time soon, and oil prices sank over concerns of another potential rise in US crude stockpiles.
Trillions of dollars have been wiped off valuations since the start of the year, with the recent slump in crude prices -- to 12-year lows -- and China's ongoing economic struggles driving the sell-off.
Hopes that central bankers in Europe and Japan would loosen monetary policy fuelled a two-day surge, but that was soon erased in Asia by Tuesday's falls.
Japanese shares led the advances Wednesday, with the Nikkei up 2.7 percent by the close.
The gain was helped by car giant Toyota, which announced it sold more than 10 million cars last year and retained the title of world's biggest automaker.
Hong Kong added 1.04 percent and Seoul ended 1.4 percent higher, but Sydney fell 1.2 percent as investors returned from a one-day public holiday.
Oil prices meanwhile fell before US inventories data, having surged Tuesday on talk that major producers Saudi Arabia and Russia could coordinate cutting output to support prices.
There are expectations the data will show another surge in US stockpiles, adding to the growing global glut that has battered prices.
- Key figures around 1445 GMT -
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.24 percent at 5,925.73 points
Frankfurt - DAX 30: DOWN 0.06 percent at 9,817.09
Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.11 percent at 4,361.52
EURO STOXX 50: DOWN 0.27 percent at 3,024.71
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 2.7 percent at 17,163.92 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.5 percent at 2,735.56 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.0 percent at 19,052.45 (close)
New York - Dow: UP 1.8 percent at 16,167.23 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0882 from $1.0868 Tuesday
Dollar/yen: UP at 118.54 yen from 118.42 yen