Stocks closed near their lows Thursday after crawling along the flatline for most of the session in lackluster trading, as investors paused after the recent market run-up and ahead of the Federal Reserve's policy-setting meeting.
European shares closed down, but off session lows on Thursday, after investor confidence took a hit earlier in the session.
The dollar fell from a seven-week high as U.S. bond yields declined and as investors speculated the Fed will be cautious in reducing its stimulus.
Global oil prices climbed for a second straight day, with U.S. oil ending more than $1 higher as investors monitored diplomatic efforts to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons.
Gold prices fell nearly 3 percent on Thursday ahead of a Fed meeting next week.
Asian equity markets were mixed on Thursday as risk appetite was dampened by fears of a reduction in the Federal Reserve's stimulus program.
The Dow and S&P 500 finished near session highs Wednesday, with the S&P logging its seventh-consecutive session in positive territory. But the Nasdaq ended lower, dragged by Apple's sharp decline.
U.S. Treasurys prices rose on Wednesday due to strong investor demand at a $21 billion auction of 10-year notes.
European shares closed narrowly higher on Wednesday, having paused after rallying on Tuesday.
Crude oil prices were moderately higher, as the United States eased off its plans for a military strike against Syria and said it would explore diplomacy first.
Gold fell as speculation that a U.S. military strike against Syria could be averted dented the metal's safe-haven appeal.
The dollar fell to near two-week lows against major currencies on Wednesday as some traders pared back bets on a reduction in stimulus by the Federal Reserve next week.
Asian stocks took a breather from this week's rally on Wednesday after President Obama confirmed that a Congressional vote to take military action in Syria will be postponed.
Stocks closed near session highs Tuesday, with the S&P 500 posting its sixth-consecutive rally, following another upbeat round of data from China and as fears over an imminent strike on Syria receded.
U.S. Treasurys yields rose on upbeat Chinese industrial output and retail sales data and ebbing concerns about conflict with Syria.
European shares closed higher on Tuesday, as the imminent threat of Western military action against Syria receded and fresh Chinese data boosted investor sentiment.
Oil prices slid more than $2 a barrel on Tuesday, as Syria accepted a Russian proposal to give up its chemical weapons, which made investors less nervous.
Gold fell 2 percent on Tuesday after Syria accepted a Russian proposal to give up chemical weapons to avert a U.S. strike.
The dollar rose to a near seven-week high against the yen on Tuesday as easing tensions over Syria and encouraging Chinese economic data eroded demand for the safe-haven Japanese currency.
Asian stock markets extended the previous day's rally after the latest batch of economic data from China boosted regional confidence.