Wall Street stocks were flat in early trading, threatening a five-day winning streak in a sign investors remain somewhat cautious after the volatility in equities this month.

About 15 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.1% at 25,215.

The broad-based S&P 500 was down less than 0.1% at 2,730.36 while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index lost a hair to 7,254.

Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare said some investors may be motivated to take profits after this week's gains ahead of the President's Day weekend, which will close US markets Monday.

European stock markets have made solid gains this afternoon. 

At 3pm, London's FTSE index had gained 45 points (0.6%) to stand at 7,279, while the Paris CAC was up 48 points (0.9%) to 5,270 and the Frankfurt DAX rose by 65 points (0.53%) to trade at 12,390.

Dublin's ISEQ index was also up 52 points (0.8%) to 6,830 with shares in Glanbia up 0.6% to €14.70 and Kerry Group up 1.5% to €86.55.

Shares in AIB are down 2.3% to €5.37.

Asian shares rose for a fifth straight day as investor confidence slowly returns after a sharp sell-off earlier in the month, while the dollar continued its descent, hitting a three-year low against a basket of major currencies.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4%, though many Asian markets were closed for the Lunar New year.           

Japan's Nikkei rose 1.2%, with investors relieved to see the government appoint Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda for another term, suggesting the central bank will be in no rush to dial back its massive stimulus programme.