The S&P 500 index was little changed on Wednesday as investors shrugged off warnings about further weakness in the euro from a lack of leadership in tackling the euro zone debt crisis.
U.S. stocks fell for most of the morning as the euro weakened against the U.S. dollar to its lowest in 16 months after Fitch Ratings warned of dire consequences if the European Central Bank did not take more action to support the currency.
But in a sign of the diminishing link between U.S. equities and the movement of the embattled currency, the S&P recovered most of the losses by afternoon trade.
There has been a delinking of the U.S. and European markets that speaks to the fact the U.S. is not going into a recession and Europe probably is, though I think it will be mild, said Jeffrey Saut, chief investment strategist at Raymond James Financial in St. Petersburg, Florida.
There's a flight to safety out of Europe and into our markets, and the world is greatly underinvested in U.S. stocks. That decoupling shovels even more money into the U.S, he said.
Analysts say U.S. stocks are undervalued compared to other markets, buoyed by a strong corporate sector and signs of a sustainable U.S. economic recovery.
The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> was down 31.45 points, or 0.25 percent, at 12,431.02. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> was down 1.05 points, or 0.08 percent, at 1,291.03. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> was up 5.41 points, or 0.20 percent, at 2,707.91. The Dow and S&P 500 hit five-month highs on Tuesday.
Energy shares led equities lower as U.S. crude futures posted their fourth decline in five days. The S&P energy sector index <.GSPE> fell 1.3 percent and an index of oil services companies <.OSX> dropped 1.6 percent.
Further reflecting the weakening link between the euro zone and U.S. stock market, the 50-day correlation between the S&P 500 e-mini futures contract and the euro crossed the zero line this week after four months of being in positive territory, indicating they were no longer on the same path.
Clothing retailer Urban Outfitters Inc
On the Nasdaq, Crocs
(Reporting By Angela Moon; additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos in New York and Doris Frankel in Chicago; Editing by Kenneth Barry)