Major stock indexes shook off an early loss and turned slightly higher in afternoon trading Friday as traders turned their attention to a long-awaited meeting of the Federal Reserve next week. Oil and gas companies dropped as the price of oil took another fall.
U.S. crude sank after Goldman Sachs said that the global glut of oil could push prices as low as $20 a barrel. Drilling companies had some of the biggest losses, with rig operator Transocean sliding 5 percent.
KEEPING SCORE: The Standard & Poor's 500 was up three points, or 0.2 percent, to 1,955 as of 2:35 p.m. Friday on Wall Street. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 58 points, or 0.4 percent, to 16,388, and the Nasdaq composite rose 12 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,808.
Traders observed a moment of silence on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange before the opening bell to observe the 14th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
REACTION: The early drop on Friday looked like the natural response to the day's news, said Phil Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Investors, the money-management firm. A reading on consumer confidence this month sank to its lowest level since September of last year.
"Reading through the report, it seems people are focused on the market's volatility and the potential impact of a slowing China," Orlando said. "I understand why folks are nervous. I think eventually things will settle down."
NEXT UP: Wall Street is divided over whether the Fed will raise its benchmark lending rate next week for the first time in nine years. The Fed slashed its key rate to near zero during the financial crisis, supporting the stock market's seven-year run. Uncertainty over the Fed's next steps have kept investors on edge.
CRUDE: Benchmark U.S. crude fell $1.29 to close at $44.63 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, an international benchmark, fell 63 cents to $48.26 a barrel in London. That drove oil and gas companies to losses. Energy shares in the S&P 500 sank 1.2 percent.
BIG BOUNCE: Grocery store operator Kroger gained 5 percent after reporting earnings that beat analysts' estimates. Kroger's stock rose $1.64 to $37.04.
ZIG-ZAG-ZIG: Major indexes are on track to finish the week solidly higher following deep losses last week. News about China's slowing economy and other concerns have knocked the market down 6 percent over the past month. It has been a staggered fall, with sharp drops one week followed by slight gains the next.
OVER THERE: Major markets in Europe finished with losses. Germany's DAX dropped 0.9 percent, while France's CAC-40 sank 1 percent. Britain's FTSE 100 slipped 0.6 percent.
ASIA'S SCORECARD: China's Shanghai Composite Index added 0.1 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.3 percent. Japan's Nikkei 225 fell 0.2 percent and South Korea's Kospi dropped 1.1 percent.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.5 percent.
CHINA: Before traders return to their desks on Monday, a large batch of Chinese economic news will come out over the weekend. Joshua Mahony, market analyst at IG, said that could lead to a turbulent start to trading next week.
"The weekend release of Chinese retail sales, industrial production and fixed asset investment numbers means that Monday is likely to start with a bang," Mahony said. "And if recent data is anything to go by, it will most likely point towards yet more trouble in the beleaguered Asian powerhouse."
BONDS AND CURRENCIES: Prices for U.S. government bonds rose, pushing the yield on the 10-year Treasury note down to 2.19 percent from 2.23 percent late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.1341 while the dollar was little changed at 120.57 Japanese yen.
METALS: Prices for precious and industrial metals finished mostly lower. Gold dropped $6 to settle at $1,103.30 an ounce, and silver sank 14 cents to $14.50 an ounce. Copper settled unchanged from the day before at $2.45 a pound.