LONDON: Asian and European stocks were narrowly mixed on Wednesday as investors balanced worries over the economic impact of coronavirus and fresh outbreaks in some countries against signs it is easing in others amid hopes for a vaccine.
Oil held onto Tuesday's gains as Hurricane Laura threatens installations in the Gulf of Mexico, with prices around highs last seen in March.
"Second wave fears are becoming more real in Europe as a number of countries, particularly tourist destinations such as Spain and France, are seeing a strong rise in COVID-19 cases," said City Index analyst Fiona Cincotta.
"Governments, however, are showing reluctance to slap nationwide lockdowns into place just yet but investor concerns are growing."
Attention is now turning towards a virtual meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with the key event being Thursday's speech by US Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell.
"Trading is expected to remain muted as investors wait patiently for this week's highlight -- the virtual Jackson Hole central bankers' summit and more specifically ... Powell," added Cincotta.
"Investors are waiting anxiously for any hints over the direction of (US) monetary policy."
Most markets had wobbled Tuesday as fading US consumer confidence undermined news that China and the United States would stick with a trade pact agreed earlier this year.
Wall Street however delivered a third-successive record-breaking lead, with tech firms unmoved by a sharp drop in confidence in the crucial US consumer sector, while easing China-US trade fears provided support.
The closely watched Conference Board index saw a sharp drop in July to a six-year low, with views on future expectations and the present both down after a spike in infections across the US Sun Belt, suggesting little chance of lasting improvement any time soon.
While there are signs the disease is levelling off in the US, other countries are fighting to subdue new flare-ups, with Spain calling in the army and South Korea again closing schools and kindergartens in the greater Seoul region.
Observers warned the upcoming winter could see more infections as people are forced to stay indoors.
In Europe on Wednesday, London lapsed into the red near the halfway stage, though Paris and Frankfurt bounced from initial losses.
"The situation is still far better than it was in the spring," said AxiCorp analyst Stephen Innes.
"However, recent momentum and outbreaks around the world are worrying, as second- and third-wave coronavirus outbreaks still pose the most significant threat to the economic recovery."
Key figures around 1100 GMT -
London - FTSE 100: DOWN 0.3 percent at 6,021.89 points
Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.5 percent at 13,120.29
Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 5,016.62
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 3,337.87
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: FLAT at 23,290.86 (close)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng: FLAT at 25,491.79 (close)
Shanghai - Composite: DOWN 1.3 percent at 3,329.74 (close)
New York - Dow: DOWN 0.2 percent at 28,248.44 (close Tuesday)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1812 from $1.1835 at 2100 GMT on Tuesday
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.25 yen from 106.39 yen
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3158 from $1.3152
Euro/pound: DOWN at 89.78 pence from 89.99 pence
Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.1 percent at $46.32 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: FLAT at $43.35