Investors are focused on tensions in the Middle East, as the United States has threatened Syria with military reprisals in the wake of domestic chemical attacks roundly condemned by the Obama administration.
After dropping 170.33 points Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average regained 48.48 points or 0.33 percent to close at 14,824.51. The Standard & Poor's 500 added 0.27 percent or 4.48 points to closed at 1,634.35. The Nasdaq exchange added 14.48 points or 0.41 percent to 3,593.35.
On the New York Stock Exchange, 1,700 stocks advanced and 1,354 declined on a volume of 2.7 billion shares.
The Nikkei 225 index in Japan dropped 1.51 percent or 203.91 points to 13,338.46.
The FTSE 100 index in Britain shed 0.17 percent or 10.91 points to 6,430.06.
Emerging markets continued to stumble. The Bovespa index in Brazil lost 0.45 percent to 49,866.92. The Shanghai index in China lost 0.11 percent to 2,101.30.
In India, the Sensex held its ground, closing 0.16 percent ahead at 17,996.15, despite the rupee falling to a record low against the U.S. dollar.
The rupee closed at 68.80 to the dollar.
The 10-year benchmark U.S. treasury bond was down 16/32 to yield 2.771 percent.
The euro rose to $1.334 while the dollar rose to 97.64 yen.
In after hours trading, crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange added 44 cents to reach $109.45 per barrel.
On the Comex division, gold shed $3.20 to reach $1,417 per troy ounce, off 0.2 percent. Silver dropped 30.5 cents to reach $24.395 per ounce, off 1.2 percent.
On the Chicago Board of Trade, December delivery corn dropped 6 1/4 cents to $4.80 per bushel. November soybeans added 4 cents to $13.74 1/2. December wheat shed 3 1/2 cents to reach $6.60 1/4.