That pattern was set overnight in Asia, where markets took a break from recent volatile trading but struggled to do much more than make incremental moves.
World shares rose 0.1 per cent, buoyed in part by Europe, where gains by most major indices broadly mirroring moves in Asia ex-Japan and Japan.
Standout gainer across European indices was Portugal's PSI 20, which rose 0.9 per cent for a gain close to its three-year intraday high, as debt yields in the country dropped to their lowest since April 10.
Strong trade data from Germany, the region's economic powerhouse, gave some support to stock market sentiment early on. But that had little effect on safe-haven German debt, with Bund futures flat at 142.48.
Tensions over Ukraine continued to build on Tuesday. With diplomacy at a standstill, Ukraine's acting president, announced the formation of a volunteer national guard.
The euro was marginally lower in early deals, but the Ukraine tensions helped support the yen after Bank of Japan chief Haruhiko Kuroda said there was no need to adjust Japanese monetary policy for now.
At 103.20 yen, the dollar was trading at the bottom of its 103.19-103.43 yen range. The euro was down 0.2 per cent at 142.95 yen, off a recent two-month high of 143.79 yen.
"Dollar/yen has been in a range between 101-104 yen for much of this year and the yen needs a fresh trigger for the next leg of weakness.That could come from a steady deterioration in Japan's trade and current account deficits.Against a basket of currencies, the US dollar was barely changed.
After recent major ructions in metals markets following February's drop in Chinese exports, prices for industrial commodities were broadly stable.
Investors in Asia remained especially nervous about iron ore, however, following an 8 per cent slide on Monday that fuelled unease about the health of China's giant steel sector.
Brent crude gained 22 cents to $108.30. US oil was up 25 cents at $101.37 a barrel. Both reversed a slight weakness during the Asian day.
Gold was a shade firmer at $1,346.20 an ounce, as the concerns about China and Ukraine kept safe-haven bullion well bid.
Gold continues to be largely supported above $1,329, and while prices are unlikely to break above $1,361.60 in the absence of war, underlying support from the Ukrainian crisis ... is likely to keep prices elevated above $1,320 for an extended time.