A roundup of trading on major world markets:
NEW YORK - US stocks opened mixed following the latest batch of mediocre fourth quarter corporate earnings reports.
Five minutes into trade on Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 16.76 (0.10 per cent) to 16,397.68.
The broad-based S&P 500 rose 2.38 (0.13 per cent) to 1,846.18, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index gained 8.09 (0.19 per cent) to 4,233.85.
Many companies' quarterly earnings in recent days have beaten expectations on profit, but have disappointed on profit outlook, revenue or other key benchmarks.
LONDON - Europe's main stock markets closed narrowly mixed, with London sliding after a bigger-than-expected drop in British unemployment takes it close to the central bank's threshold to begin raising interest rates.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 ended down 0.12 per cent at 6,826.33 points and Frankfurt's DAX 30 slid 0.10 per cent to 9,720.11 points, but the CAC 40 in Paris edged up 0.03 per cent to 4,324.98 points.
Milan gave up 0.19 per cent and Madrid dropped 0.75 per cent.
Britain's unemployment dropped faster than expected to 7.1 per cent, in the three months to the end of November - from 7.4 per cent in the quarter through to the end of October - further highlighting the nation's economic recovery.
It is the lowest level for nearly five years, or since it stood at 6.8 per cent in February 2009.
The euro dipped to $US1.3557 from $US1.3559 late on Tuesday in New York.
HONG KONG - Asian markets were largely higher, with Tokyo reversing early losses after the Bank of Japan said it was winning the war against deflation and delayed injecting fresh stimulus into Asia's number two economy.
Tokyo closed 0.16 per cent higher, rising 25 points to 15,820.96, while Sydney eased 0.22 per cent, or 11.7 points, to close at 5,319.8 after the release of stronger than expected inflation data.
Seoul gained 0.33 per cent, or 6.53 points, to end at 1,970.42.
Shanghai surged 2.16 per cent, or 43.44 points, to close at 2,051.75 while Hong Kong added 0.21 per cent, or 49.13 points, to 23,082.25.
WELLINGTON - The NZX50 advanced 28.668 points or about 0.6 per cent to 4950.339.