Stocks were little changed on Friday, but easing European sovereign debt yields kept the S&P 500 above a key technical level.
Selling on Thursday afternoon pushed the S&P 500 below a support level at around 1,230. The next key test will be whether the index can hold its 50-day moving average just above 1,200, possibly setting the stage for a bounce if it does.
Still, persistent worries about Europe's debt crisis have U.S. stocks on track for their worst week in two months.
Today the concerns about Europe have softened some, if for only one day, said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer of Hugh Johnson Advisors LLC in Albany, New York.
Financial shares, among the most sensitive to euro zone financial strains, rebounded from recent losses. The S&P financial index was up 0.4 percent.
Traders were upbeat after a Reuters report on Thursday that euro zone and International Monetary Fund officials have discussed the idea of the European Central Bank lending to the IMF so it has sufficient resources to bail out even the biggest euro zone sovereigns.
European debt yields, an important risk barometer for investors, came off recent highs while the euro firmed. The yield on the Spanish 10-year, a focus of market anxiety, fell back to 6.43 percent after rising above 7 percent earlier in the session.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 30.12 points, or 0.26 percent, at 11,800.85. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 0.89 points, or 0.07 percent, at 1,217.02. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 9.03 points, or 0.35 percent, at 2,578.96.
The S&P 500 is down 3.5 percent so far this week. That would be its worst weekly run since late September.
While investors try to come to grips with how much of an impact the European crisis may have on the U.S. economy, data here continued to show improvement.
Jefferies initiated coverage of Coca-Cola with a buy rating, sending the stock up 1.5 percent at $67.60.
Advancers beat decliners on the NYSE by about 4-to-3, while composite trading volume was light at nearly 3 billion shares.
(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; additional reporting by Edward Krudy; editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)