Major U.S. indexes fell, rose, then slipped back again by midday.
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 18 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 15,896 at noon local (1700 GMT).
The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down two points, or 0.1 per cent, to 1,793. The Nasdaq composite fell a point to 4,035.
Conflicting news about the economy left investors unsure about when the Fed will reduce its monthly bond purchases, which have been supporting financial markets. The Fed's next policy meeting is in two weeks.
Sears slumped after the company's CEO cut his stake in the company.