At the same time, US Treasuries rose as some investors remained pessimistic about the summit, buying into safe-haven bonds.
Commodities saw a clearer risk-off trade, with oil, metals and grains prices falling broadly.
Stocks were besieged by volatility from start to finish, with razor-thin volumes exaggerating market moves. Wall Street’s S&P 500 index fell by up to 1 per cent at one point, before recovering more than half of the dip within minutes.
The choppy session followed gains in US stocks since the start of the week, built on the notion that the European Union summit beginning today will create a more workable solution to the bloc’s debt crisis.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 46.24 points, or 0.38 per cent, at 12,196.37. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was up 2.54 points, or 0.20 per cent, at 1,261.01. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 0.35 points, or 0.01 per cent, at 2,649.21. Since reaching a closing low on 25 November, the S&P 500 has risen almost nine per cent to yesterday.