Stocks fell in Paris, London, Tokyo, and Sydney but rose in Shanghai and Frankfurt.
Prices for oil and other energy have surged recently along with costs of other commodities. Shortages of semiconductors have meanwhile slowed output of many high-value industrial goods such as cars and consumer electronics.
The U.S. Labor Department is due to release its Consumer Price Index for September later Wednesday.
It is a gauge of how inflation is pressuring costs for consumers. Additional information on inflation pressures for businesses will come Thursday when the Labor Department releases its Producer Price Index.
Investors will get look at how rising prices may be affecting consumer spending when the Commerce Department releases its retail sales report for September on Friday.
Germany’s DAX gained 0.3 percent to 15,197.28 while the CAC 40 in Paris slipped 0.2 percent to 6,537.59. Britain’s FTSE 100 lost 0.4 percent to 7,101.10.
But U.S. futures edged higher. The contracts for both the Dow industrials and the S&P 500 were 0.1 percent higher.
In Asia, shares rose in Shanghai after customs data showed exports rose in September, though imports rose at a much slower pace. The Shanghai Composite index jumped 0.4 percent to 3,561.76.
Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3 percent to 28,140.28 and the S&P/ASX 200 in Sydney edged 0.1 percent lower to 7,272.50. Seoul’s Kospi gained 1 percent to 2,944.41.
Hong Kong’s markets were closed as a precaution due to an approaching typhoon.
China’s producer price index is due out on Thursday. Economists have forecast a surge of more than 10 percent year-on-year, up from 9.5 percent in August.
The customs data released Wednesday showed China’s exports rose 28.1 percent in September to $305.7 billion. That was slightly faster than the 26 percent increase logged in August, and better than economists’ forecasts. Imports rose 17.6 percent to $240 billion, less than the previous month’s 33 percent.
On Tuesday, Wall Street’s major indexes wavered between small gains and losses for much of the day on Wall Street, before selling gained momentum in the final minutes of trading. The S&P 500 slipped 0.2 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 0.3 percent and the Nasdaq slipped 0.1 percent.
Small company stocks, a gauge of confidence in economic growth, fared better than the broader market, driving the Russell 2000 index 0.6 percent higher.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 1.57 percent from 1.60 percent late Friday. The bond market was closed on Monday for Columbus Day.
Markets have been choppy for weeks as investors try to figure out how the economy will continue its recovery with COVID-19 remaining a threat and rising inflation potentially crimping consumer spending and corporate finances.
The IMF said Tuesday it foresees global growth this year of 5.9 percent, compared with a projection for 6 percent growth made in July. It said the change reflected the persistence of supply chain disruptions in industrialized countries.
The coming round of earnings reports will give Wall Street a clearer picture of how companies fared in the most recent quarter amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. It will also shed some light on how they expect to perform through the rest of the year.
S&P 500 companies are expected to post 27.6 percent annual earnings growth for the July-September quarter, according to FactSet. That’s down from 28.1 percent growth estimated by analysts in July.
JPMorgan Chase will kick off earnings for banks on Wednesday. Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup will follow with their latest quarterly results on Thursday.
In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil lost 17 cents to $80.47 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 12 cents to $80.64 per barrel on Tuesday.
Brent crude, the international standard, declined 20 cents to $83.22 per barrel.
The U.S. dollar slipped to 113.52 Japanese yen from 113.59 yen late Tuesday. The euro rose to $1.1560 from $1.1530.
By Elaine Kurtenbach