Wall Street fluctuated near record highs as investors reassessed valuations, while the US dollar declined.

"Optimism is a mile high, but an inch deep," John Manley, chief equity strategist for Wells Fargo Funds Management in New York, told Bloomberg "People are being pulled into this stock market. They're worried it's gone up too fast."

In 1.09pm trading in New York the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.2 per cent. In 12.54pm trading, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index eked out a 0.02 per cent gain. Both touched fresh record highs earlier in the day.

However, the Nasdaq Composite Index declined 0.4 per cent, weighed down by Nvidia.


Shares of Nvidia sank, trading 9.1 per cent weaker as of 12.31pm in New York, after analysts downgraded their ratings on the stock because of concern about its valuation and the outlook.

The Dow climbed to a record as gains in shares of Pfizer and those of Johnson & Johnson, recently each trading 1.3 per cent higher, outweighed declines in shares of Caterpillar and those of Nike, down 2.4 per cent and 0.5 per cent respectively.

"What I like about this market is that [investors] seem to be a little more focused on fundamentals as opposed to looking at the volatility coming from politics," Omar Aguilar, chief investment officer at Charles Schwab Investment Management, told Reuters.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said he wants to see "very significant" tax reform passed before Congress' August recess. He made the comments in an interview with CNBC.

The latest US job data underpinned expectations that Federal Reserve policy makers might raise interest rates at their March meeting, even as minutes from the most recent meeting-released on Wednesday-suggested a more dovish stance.

A Labour Department report showed that initial claims for state unemployment benefits rose 6,000 to a seasonally adjusted 244,000 for the week ended February 18.

"All indications are that job creation remains solid, underscoring the resiliency of the nearly eight-year economic recovery," Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors in Kalamazoo, Michigan, told Reuters. "A March hike cannot be ruled out."

In Europe, France's CAC 40 Index slipped 0.1 per cent, while Germany's DAX Index fell 0.4 per cent, and the UK's FTSE 100 Index declined 0.4 per cent.


Morgan Stanley may initially move 300 staff from Britain following the country's exit from the European Union and is scouting for office space in Frankfurt and Dublin, according to Bloomberg.

Eventually the US bank will choose either Frankfurt or Dublin to base its enlarged EU hub, Bloomberg reported, citing three people with knowledge of the matter.

Oil prices gave up some of their earlier gains as US government data showed a further build in crude stocks.

Benchmark Brent crude oil recently traded at US$56.65 after earlier touching US$57.26, while US light crude traded at at US$54.34 a barrel after reaching US$54.94 a barrel earlier in the day.