Stocks on Wall Street were near break-even, trading in a subdued pattern after U.S. markets posted some of the lowest daily trading volumes of the year in the past week.
Equity markets in Europe declined as concerns over the region's sluggish response to the euro zone debt crisis sent 10-year German bond yields to fresh lows.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 9.31 points, or 0.07 per cent, at 12,643.81. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 1.94 points, or 0.14 per cent, at 1,343.41. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 2.60 points, or 0.09 per cent, at 2,899.73.
In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 index of top European companies fell 0.06 per cent to 1,038.50.
The dollar was down against a basket of major trading-partner currencies, with the U.S. Dollar Index down 0.21 per cent at 83.229.
U.S. government debt prices were little changed as worries about the European debt crisis and a slowing U.S. economy pinned benchmark yields near 5-1/2 week lows ahead of an auction of 10-year notes.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 2/32 in price to yield 1.5082 per cent.
The Fed minutes "will be eagerly awaited by market participants for clues regarding the outlook for monetary policy," said Eric Theoret, currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto. "Clues regarding the outlook will arise from the discussion of other, more active measures that some of the more dovish activist policy-makers may have sought to pursue."
Germany sold just over 4 billion euros of 10-year government bonds on Wednesday at record low yields with demand solid due to concerns that the recently agreed anti-crisis measures may not be powerful enough to overcome the euro zone debt crisis.
Yields on 10-year German debt in the secondary market were lower at 1.283 per cent, lower than the average auction result of 1.31 per cent.
Brent crude oil, which fell more than two percent on Tuesday, was back above $99 a barrel after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), which produces one-third of global oil, left its 2012 world oil demand growth forecast unchanged at 0.9 million barrels per day.
Traders were awaiting the release of U.S. inventory data that is expected to show crude stocks shrinking for a third week in the world's largest oil consumer.
Brent crude for August delivery rose $1.50 to $97.47 a barrel. U.S. crude was up $1.74 at $85.65 a barrel.
Copyright @Thomson Reuters 2012