* European shares flat after early dip, Nikkei ends down 0.2 pct
* Dollar rises vs yen, choppy against basket of key currencies
* Oil eases off 10-week high, gold falls
Global markets mostly stuck to tight ranges on Tuesday, with uncertainty about the future of the U.S. monetary stimulus program keeping investors on edge as the Federal Reserve prepared to meet.
The U.S. central bank kicks off a two-day meeting later in the day and markets are on alert for guidance on when and how quickly it will look to wind down its bond buying program.
After a calmer session for Asian markets, European shares .FTEU3 recovered from an early dip to stand almost unchanged on the day and U.S. futures pointed to a subdued start on Wall Street.
"I don't think we will get any great retreat from the expectation that tapering (slowing of bond purchases) is really quite imminent," said Nick Beecroft senior market analyst at Saxo Bank.
"I think the Fed is secretly sitting with its fingers crossed, hoping that the froth continues to be skimmed off asset markets. I don't think they will be bothered at all if the S&P500 or other risk markets fall 5 or 10 percent, as long as it didn't happen in a (single) day."
The dollar was firmer against the yen, hovering above a two-month low against Japanese currency, although it was slightly down against other majors including the euro.
That was despite comments in Israel from European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi, who said the bank remained ready to cut rates again if needed and kept the door open to the idea of the ECB charging on deposits parked by banks.
"There are numerous other measures - standard interest rate policy and non-standard measures - that we can deploy and that we will deploy if circumstances warrant," Draghi said.
He also said the calmer conditions in the euro zone meant monetary policy had regained its "steering capacity" again.
DAY AT THE ZEW
In the debt markets, German Bund futures dipped in line with U.S. Treasuries on the expectations the Fed may signal it is moving closer to trimming its bond purchases. Analysts also had one eye on the release of Germany's ZEW business sentiment survey at 0900 GMT (5 a.m. EDT).
Economists polled by Reuters see a uptick in the mood in Germany but the Bundesbank has already warned there could be another slowdown in the second half of the year.
Underscoring the wider regional malaise, new figures showed car sales in Europe plunged to the lowest level in two decades last month.
The nervousness ahead of the Fed meeting restricted growth-linked metals like copper as well as safe-haven and inflation-attuned assets such as gold to minor moves.
Brent crude was also barely changed around $105, holding near a 10-week high, as fears that the tensions in Syria could spark conflict in more oil-rich parts of the region provided a prop for the otherwise Fed-focused market.
"The market has certainly built in a risk premium (from Syria) into prices, and this should keep it supported despite fundamentals suggesting that there is more than enough oil out there to buffer a disruption," said Carl Larry of Oil Outlooks and Opinions.