U.S. stocks barely budged in a choppy trading session on Friday, lifted by several broker upgrades that offset disappointing data showing the unemployment rate rose to its highest in more than 26 years.

General Electric Co jumped 6.4 percent to $15.36 after two analysts' upgrades and helped push the industrial sector higher. The S&P industrial index <.GSPI> was up 1.1 percent.

The market fell at the open and briefly turned positive after closer inspection of the report showed payroll losses kept declining and job losses for earlier months were revised lower. GE got upgraded, which I thought was astonishing -- how bold, said Cummins Catherwood, managing director at Boenning and Scattergood in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

But the trend is better -- most of the stuff we see is more positive than negative, or at least less negative than it might have been.

The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI> gained 2.04 points, or 0.02 percent, to 10,008.00. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.SPX> added 0.78 of a point, or 0.07 percent, to 1,067.41. The Nasdaq Composite Index <.IXIC> rose 2.28 points, or 0.11 percent, to 2,107.60.

Bernstein Research and Oppenheimer upgraded their ratings on GE to outperform as they believe there will be major divestitures over the next two to three years. They also see a favorable entry point after the stock underperformed since the middle of October.

Travelers Cos Inc gave the biggest boost to the Dow. Shares of Travelers rose 2.3 percent to $51.79 after Goldman Sachs upgraded the insurer's stock along with XL Capital , which rose 3.1 percent to $17.10, to buy from neutral.

The KBW Insurance index <.KIX> added 0.8 percent.

But bailed-out insurer American International Group Inc tumbled 9.1 percent to $35.71 after it said its main insurance business remained weak.

Amazon.com Inc jumped 4.5 percent at $126.00 after Bernstein upgraded the stock to outperform on the belief the company will continue to see growth and margin expansion in the future.

JP Morgan raised Macy's Inc to overweight from neutral, citing improving monthly comparable-store sales at the department store operator and a potential for earnings upside. The stock was up 6.3 percent at $19.16.

The S&P retailer index <.RLX> climbed 1.6 percent.

(Reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak; Editing by Jan Paschal)