Wall Street closes flat

United States stocks closed little changed.

United States stocks closed little changed despite a strong open amid more signs of strength in the US jobs market and after the European Central Bank chief acknowledged growing concerns over low eurozone inflation.

Investors appear to be striking a cautious note ahead of the official monthly jobs report from the US, which will be released tomorrow.

At the closing bell, the the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 17.98 points, or 0.11 per cent, lower at 16,4444.76.

The broad-based S&P 500 was up 0.64 of a point, or 0.04 per cent, at 1,838.13, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gave up 9.42 points, or 0.23 per cent, to 4,156.19.

Earlier, stocks climbed close to half a per cent at the open, but they soon turned lower before steadying in the afternoon.

US jobless claims fell last week, representing a drop in layoffs that combined with other preliminary data on the jobs market suggest a possible upside surprise to December job creation numbers when they are released on Friday. The fall in claims was to 330,000 beat expectations for 335,000.

The US dollar surged against the euro as the ECB kept its benchmark interest rate on hold at a record-low level and ECB President Mario Draghi pledged decisive action if inflation slows further.

The Bank of England also left its cash rate unchanged, while there was some good news in Europe with the release of data showing a rise in confidence.