Reports from China showed business activity growing in September, but at a slower pace than in August.
In Europe, the Purchasing Manager's Index for the service sector came to 46.1 in September, a small improvement from August but still showing contraction, as numbers below 50 indicate business activity slowing down.
On the domestic front, Automatic Data Processing Inc. said 162,000 private sector jobs were added to the U.S. economy in September, a smaller job gain than August. ADP said 189,000 jobs were added in August, 12,000 fewer than initially announced.
On the New York Stock Exchange, half went north and half went south, as 1,512 stocks advanced and 1,513 declined on a volume of 3.5 billion shares traded. Another 110 stocks were unchanged on the exchange.
By close of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average added 12.25 or 0.09 percent to 13,494.61. The Nasdaq composite index added 15.19 points or 0.49 percent to 3,135.23. The Standard & Poor's 500 index gained 5.24 points or 0.36 percent to 1,450.99.
The benchmark 10-year treasury note rose 1/32 to yield 1.621 percent.
The euro fell to $1.2905 from Tuesday's $1.2919. Against the yen, the dollar rose to 78.5 yen from 78.18 yen.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei 225 index dropped 0.45 percent, 39.18, to 8,746.87.
In London, the FTSE 100 index added 0.28 percent, 16.36 points, to 5,825.81.