* European shares mixed, off highs; Germany gets data boost
* Ukraine tension, China growth outlook weigh on sentiment
* U.S. equities edge up, Treasuries ease
* Euro/dollar dips, yen firms as Bank of Japan stands pat
* Bunds edge up, gold and oil extend gains
By David Gaffen
NEW YORK, March 11 (Reuters) - Major world equity markets were mostly steady on Tuesday, the euro edged down and gold rose as traders kept a wary eye on tensions between Ukraine and Russia and the pace of growth in China.
Markets have taken a break from recent volatile trading, and moves in most major stock markets were relatively muted. An index of global stocks was trading around break even, while the benchmark U.S. S&P 500 nudged higher.
“Market players remain cautious. There’s a lack of enthusiasm in chasing stocks, and some are just thinking about moving to the sidelines after the roller-coaster ride we’ve had since the start of the year,” said Guillaume Dumans, co-head of research firm 2Bremans.
The U.S. Treasury market was muted, with the 10-year yield slightly higher to 2.80 percent, falling 5/32 in price. The activity in credit markets was focused on the municipal sector, where the island of Puerto Rico sold $3.5 billion in debt to shore up its struggling finances. The bonds sold at an 8 percent coupon with a yield of 8.727 percent, levels much less expensive than expected in that market.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 37.28 points or 0.23 percent, to 16,455.96, the S&P 500 gained 4.84 points or 0.26 percent, to 1,882.01 and the Nasdaq Composite added 19.418 points or 0.45 percent, to 4,353.866.
Economic figures were limited on Tuesday. A sharp fall in wholesale sales surprised investors and led to a buildup in inventories in January, particularly in autos and machinery stocks. Wholesale inventories rose 0.6 percent. This is a positive for first-quarter growth, though economists expect the weak sales figure to be reversed.
The euro fell against the dollar and the yen on Tuesday after European Central Bank (ECB) Vice President Vitor Constancio told investors that they may have missed the message on policy that rates are set to remain accommodative for some time to come.
Strong trade data from Germany, the region’s economic powerhouse, helped the country’s DAX index outperform, as it rose 0.9 percent.
“Recent events, especially concerning Russia and Turkey, have made the outlook less certain, and their impact will only be felt in a few months from now,” said Markus Huber, a senior sales trader at Peregrine & Black.
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, while ousted leader Viktor Yanukovich insisted he remained the country’s legitimate leader.
Turkish assets have been hit by political scandals and a power struggle between Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and a U.S.-based Muslim cleric.
Against a basket of currencies, the U.S. dollar edged higher by late morning to trade up 0.01 percent.
Gold extended early gains as Ukraine strengthened the bid in that market. The yellow metal was at $1,349 an ounce. In a sign of the recent jump in demand, the world’s biggest bullion-backed exchange-traded fund saw its largest inflow in a month on Monday.
Brent crude, Europe’s regional benchmark, edged up 9 cents to $108.17 a barrel, while U.S. oil slipped 38 cents to $100.74.