Global stocks were mixed on Wednesday, with Wall Street gyrating on the latest headlines connected to myriad trade conflicts and US airlines and insurers falling ahead of the arrival of a major hurricane.
Bourses in London, Paris and Frankfurt all finished solidly higher, with some investors hunting for bargains after recent weakness, traders said.
"Stocks have ticked up although traders remain nervous about the state of global trading relations," said market analyst David Madden at CMC Markets UK.
In the United States, stocks rallied to session highs soon after a midday Wall Street Journal report that US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had invited Chinese officials for a bilateral meeting.
But Wall Street equities pulled back a bit later following a Federal Reserve report chronicling rising anxiety across the United States about trade tensions, with some businesses planning to curtail capital spending amid the fog.
A new lobby group called Americans for Free Trade announced plans to campaign against tariffs in the upcoming mid-term elections.
Barclays said trade tension between the US and China "is likely to get worse before it gets better," adding in a new report that both countries would "endure several years or more of modestly slower growth" under the bank's current "baseline" scenario.
- Florence hits airlines, insurers -
Among other markets, oil prices, especially the US contract for WTI, rose as Hurricane Florence moved towards the eastern United States, threatening massive destruction.
"Oil prices are well supported as dealers try to get a handle on Hurricane Florence potential impact" on crude supplies, noted Oanda analyst Dean Popplewell.
A drop in US crude stocks also added to upward pressure, with Brent briefly passing $80 per barrel.
Worries about the storm also pressured some leading US insurers, with Allstate, Travelers and Hartford Financial Services Group all declining.
Leading US carriers Delta Air Lines, United Continental and American Airlines all lost at least 1.5 percent.
Apple, which jumped Tuesday in anticipation of this year's product launches, dipped 1.2 percent after unveiling updated versions its priciest iPhones, along with a new smartwatch that allows users to take their own electrocardiograms.
Chinese automaker NIO, a would-be rival to California's electric car producer Tesla, surged 5.4 percent in its first session of trading in New York .
- Key figures around 2100 GMT -
New York - Dow Jones: UP 0.1 percent at 25,998.92 (close)
New York - S&P 500: UP less than 0.1 percent at 2,888.92 (close)
New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.2 percent at 2,888.92 (close)
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 7,313.36 (close)
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.5 percent at 12,032.30 (close)
Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.9 percent at 5,332.13 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.5 percent at 3,326.60 (close)
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 22,604.61 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: DOWN 0.3 percent at 26,345.04 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 0.3 percent at 2,656.11 (close)
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1629 from $1.1606 at 2100 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3053 from $1.3033
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.25 yen from 111.63 yen
Oil - Brent Crude: UP 68 cents at $79.74 per barrel
Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP $1.12 at $70.37 per barrel