Stocks edged higher in a volatile session on Friday as rising uncertainty over the European debt crisis and concerns about a global recession kept investors jittery.
Stocks seesawing between gains and losses, as investors jumped at buy or sell buttons on any indications from policymakers that suggested additional steps to support the global economy.
One such indication was comments from European Central Bank Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny, who said it might be advisable for the ECB to add more liquidity into the banking system.
That a statement which essentially just clarifies procedures the ECB already has in place can move futures that much illustrates just how jumpy this market really is, said Mike Shea, a managing partner and trader at Direct Access Partners LLC in New York.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 15.36 points, or 0.14 percent, at 10,749.19. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 6.08 points, or 0.54 percent, at 1,135.64. The Nasdaq Composite Index was up 18.27 points, or 0.74 percent, at 2,473.94.
Energy stocks slipped on fears of a global economic slowdown, following Brent crude oil futures, which hit a six-week on concerns about the economic outlook and oil demand. But utility issues, largely regarded as defensive, were the top gainers.
The S&P 500 energy sector index fell 0.4 percent and the S&P utilities sector gained nearly 1 percent.
Wall Street's fear gauge, the CBOE Volatility Index, rose 1.5 percent, following a 12 percent rise in the past two days, its biggest percentage spike in a month.
On the corporate front, Hewlett-Packard Co was down 4 percent to $21.90 a day after Meg Whitman, the former head of EBay Inc was named to run the computer and printer maker. The move was met with criticism of the company's board, which has been blamed for a series of recent missteps.
(Reporting by Angela Moon; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)