Investors were also assessing a U.S. Labor Department report that showed consumer prices increased by the most in 14 months in March, although underlying inflation remained benign.
The tame inflation environment and moderating economic activity support the Federal Reserve’s decision last month to suspend its three-year campaign to raise interest rates.
“Amid increasing concern that our economy is slowing down, it’s a bit ironic to get a signal above expectations,” Mike Loewengart, vice president of investment strategy at E*Trade Financial, wrote in a note.
“It’s also important to keep in mind this read is a far cry from the type of deflationary levels that would warrant a rate cut, which we’ve begun to hear rumblings about.”
The U.S. central bank will release minutes from its March meeting at 2:00 p.m. ET (1800 GMT), giving an insight into the Fed’s thinking behind its move to suspend rate hikes this year.
The sluggish moves on the main U.S. stock indexes followed a selloff on Tuesday, triggered by trade and growth concerns.
Industrial stocks were down 0.5%, as Boeing Co shares continued to weigh after the company on Tuesday reported zero new orders for its 737 MAX jet following a worldwide grounding of the aircraft in March. Its shares fell 1.4%.
U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on $11 billion worth of European goods, opening a new front in his global trade war.
The International Monetary Fund’s cut in global growth forecast also added to the gloom, with investors now hoping for better-than-feared first-quarter earnings reports and a dovish Fed to keep up the momentum in the market.
The S&P 500 has risen 14.8% so far this year and is now just 1.6% below its record closing high hit on Sept. 20.
At 10:18 a.m. ET the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 29.03 points, or 0.11%, at 26,121.55, the S&P 500 was up 2.50 points, or 0.09%, at 2,880.70 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 18.34 points, or 0.23%, at 7,927.62.
Seven of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher.
Technology stocks gained 0.35%, helped by Microsoft Corp, Nvidia Corp and Cisco Systems Inc.
Levi Strauss & Co jumped 6.3% after the jeans maker posted a 7% rise in quarterly revenue after returning to public markets last month.
Advancing issues outnumbered decliners for a 2.28-to-1 ratio on the NYSE and for a 1.66-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The S&P index recorded 16 new 52-week highs and no new lows, while the Nasdaq recorded 33 new highs and 19 new lows.