The Dow and S&P 500 gauges rose on Friday as falling European sovereign debt yields eased investors' fears the region's debt crisis, helping to keep the S&P 500 above a key technical level.

A drop below 1,230 on the S&P 500 on Thursday triggered heavy selling. Analysts now are watching to see if the index holds above its 50-day moving average near 1,200, which could lead to a rebound.

Persistent worries about Europe's debt crisis have U.S. stocks on track for their worst week in two months.

Financial shares, which have been among the most sensitive to euro zone financial strains, rebounded. The S&P financial index was up 0.8 percent.

While investors try to come to grips with how much of an impact the European crisis may have on the U.S. economy, data continue to show improvement.

A gauge of future U.S. economic activity rose more than expected in October, according to the Conference Board.

I think the macro picture is pretty good in the U.S. It's not overwhelmingly great. But the entire collection of data points in the last few weeks is very encouraging, said Natalie Trunow, chief investment officer of equities at Calvert Investment Management in Bethesda, Maryland, which manages about $13 billion.

Traders also 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 members.

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 53.47 points, or 0.45 percent, at 11,824.20. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 3.38 points, or 0.28 percent, at 1,219.51. The Nasdaq Composite Index was down 5.59 points, or 0.22 percent, at 2,582.40.

The S&P 500 is down 3.5 percent so far this week. That would be its worst weekly run since late September.

Jefferies initiated coverage of Coca-Cola with a buy rating, sending the stock up 1.3 percent at $67.47.

Advancers beat decliners on the NYSE by about 17-to-11, while composite trading volume was light at 4.07 billion shares.

(Reporting by Caroline Valetkevitch; Editing by Kenneth Barry)