European stocks steadied and the euro gained versus the dollar Wednesday as investors awaited an EU summit on solving the eurozone debt crisis and companies warned of job cuts amid increased instability.
The cancellation of an EU finance ministers' meeting due to have taken place before the summit hiked concerns that a deal may not be reached to firmly tackle a crisis that has threatened to plunge the world economy into recession.
Indebted Italy is meanwhile hoping to convince its EU peers that it does not require a huge bailout similar to that handed out to Greece.
Ahead of the summit, the European Commission called on eurozone leaders to deliver a "credible" response to the debt crisis.
"We need a deal tonight. ... We expect a credible political answer to key questions on the table," commission spokesman Olivier Bailly told a news briefing just hours before European leaders were to meet in Brussels.
In European midday trade, London's benchmark FTSE 100 index was up 0.05 percent to 5,527.78 points, Frankfurt's DAX 30 edged down 0.09 percent to 6,039.79 points and in Paris the CAC 40 rose 0.07 percent to 3,176.30.
In company news, Swiss lift manufacturer Schindler said it would slash 1,772 jobs mainly in Spain, Portugal and the United States, as part of a restructuring to cope with difficult economic conditions.
"As a result of the sovereign debt crisis and the numerous political decisions that have yet to be reached, uncertainty persists regarding the development of the global economy," the company said.
A spokesman for PSA Peugeot Citroen meanwhile told AFP that the French automaker could slash 5,000 jobs in Europe as part of a wide-reaching cost-cutting plan.
In foreign exchange deals, the euro rose to $1.3929 from $1.3904 late on Tuesday. The dollar dropped to 75.90 yen from 76.06 yen, while gold prices grew to $1,714.35 from $1,656 a day earlier.
"EU summit uncertainty remains the primary concern as we head into today's crunch meeting," said Michael Hewson, an analyst at traders CMC Markets.
"Yesterday's sudden cancellation of the finance ministers meeting doesn't generate confidence that EU leaders have a coherent plan to deal with the debt crisis, and the pathetic reasons for the cancellation, saying there wasn't really a definite meeting scheduled in the first place, only serve to reinforce this perception."
The eurozone wants to beef up its 440-billion-euro ($610 billion) rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, to persuade markets it has the means to protect highly indebted nations such as Greece and Italy.
Leaders also want to agree on a huge write-down on bondholders' debt of stricken Greece and make sure banks have enough reserves to withstand losses.
The 27-nation EU will meet first at 1600 GMT to decide on the bank recapitalisation followed by a summit of the 17 eurozone leaders to, in theory, finalise their grand bargain.
Asia-Pacific shares mostly closed higher Wednesday after reversing early losses, as markets waited for news of whether a concrete plan to tackle the eurozone's debt crisis would emerge.
Sydney added 0.35 percent, Seoul won 0.30 percent, Hong Kong climbed 0.52, while Tokyo closed down 0.16 percent.
The uncertainty in the European Union has weighed on global commodity and equity markets for months, slashing trillions of dollars from the combined values of companies.
Wall Street sank Tuesday on indications of a still-weak US economy and worries that European leaders might not reach a deal on Wednesday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which closed Monday at an early August peak, tumbled 1.74 percent. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite slumped 2.26 percent and the broader S&P 500 declined 2.00 percent.