Global stock markets were subdued despite significant gains over recent days as US trading shut for the Thanksgiving holiday.
Investors have been in an upbeat mood this week as news of coronavirus vaccine developments helped push the Dow above 30,000 for the first time in history.
However, caution has settled in as coronavirus infection rates remain high in many major economies and following the release of discouraging US economic data, including jobless numbers.
Germany’s DAX was up less than 0.1% to 13,291 while France’s CAC 40 dipped about 0.1% to 5,565.
The UK’s FTSE 100 slipped 0.5% to 6,356.
US markets will be closed on Thursday and only be open for half the day on Friday.
In Asia, Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.9% to finish at 26,537.31 – the highest level for the index since the collapse of the Japanese “bubble economy” nearly three decades ago.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.7% to 6,636.40 but South Korea’s Kospi edged up 0.9% to 2,625.91.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.6% to 26,819.45 while the Shanghai Composite was up 0.2% at 3,369.73.
Cases of Covid-19 continue to soar around the world and deaths related to the virus are growing, hitting more than 1.4 million people cumulatively worldwide.
In the US there are concerns that it will spread during the Thanksgiving holiday.
In Japan, authorities asked restaurants and bars to close early and people to refrain from travel.
European governments are looking to ease existing restrictions ahead of Christmas, though many limits on business are expected to continue.
Economic data has been mixed this week, with reports showing the number of Americans seeking unemployment aid jumped last week to the highest level in more than a month.
A separate report showed consumer spending posted the weakest gain since April.
Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial, said: “The market overall has reached by most standards what we call overbought conditions and that typically suggests that the market would need to digest the gains, perhaps pause a bit and consolidate.”
The US commerce department said consumer spending, the primary driver of the economy, rose by a sluggish 0.5% in October, the weakest gain since April when the pandemic first erupted.
At the same time, the government said that income, which provides the fuel for consumer spending, fell 0.7% in October.
In energy trading, benchmark US crude shed 79 cents (58p) to 44.92 dollars (£33.15) a barrel.
Brent crude, the international standard, fell 84 cents (62p) to 47.69 dollars (£35.19) a barrel.
The dollar inched down to 104.24 yen from 104.50 yen. The euro cost 1.1901 dollars, up from 1.1885 dollars.