Stocks regained some momentum Thursday as fresh economic data suggested inflation remains well under control, but volatile oil prices gave investors some pause late in the day.
Analysts are closely watching stocks for signs that the market will stabilize in the second half of the year, but choppy trading has made it difficult to build confidence among investors, particularly given recent fluctuations in oil prices.
"Once again, we've pulled oil into the headlines. It seems we always find ourselves with that staring us down anytime we're starting a rally," said Bill Groenveld, head trader for vFinance Investments.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 13.13, or 0.1 percent, to 10,244.49. The Nasdaq composite index gained 7.56, or 0.4 percent, to 1904.08. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index gained 3.13, or 0.3 percent, to 1123.50.
Oil production facilities in the Gulf of Mexico were restaffing and assessing damage after Hurricane Ivan threatened rigs, tossed tankers off course and dented production earlier in the week. Crude prices were down most of the day, but inched higher late in the day.
The Labor Department reported a 0.1 percent increase in the consumer price index, the government's most closely watched inflation gauge. It was a better reading than the 0.2 percent rise forecast by economists, and indicates inflation poses no immediate risk.
Shares of Nortel Networks fell 30 cents, or 7.9 percent, to $3.50, after the Canadian telecom equipment giant warned that revenue for the current quarter would be lower than the previous period, and full-year growth was likely to trail the industry. Regulators are investigating the company for possible accounting fraud.
Delta Air Lines shares dropped 9 cents, to $4.01, after an independent auditor raised doubts about the carrier's financial viability, and the company revised its annual report to include the possibility of a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.
Joining the list of tech concerns that have issued earnings warnings, Lawson Software shed 77 cents, or 12.6 percent, to $5.36, after announcing that it expects lower-than-predicted results for the latest quarter because of an unexpected drop in tech spending.
* The New York Stock Exchange composite index rose 28.29, to 6574.61; the American Stock Exchange index rose 6.67, to 1245.91; and the Russell 2000 index of smaller-company stocks rose 6.02, to 574.54.
* Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones by 3 to 1 on the NYSE, where trading volume fell to 1.11 billion shares, from 1.25 billion on Wednesday. On the Nasdaq Stock Market, advancers outnumbered decliners by 26 to 1 and volume totaled 1.31 billion, down from 1.56 billion.
* The price of the Treasury's 10-year note rose $7.50 per $1,000 invested, and its yield fell to 4.07 percent, from 4.16 percent on Wednesday.
* The dollar fell against the Japanese yen and the euro. In late New York trading, a dollar bought 109.63 yen, down from 110.02 late Wednesday, and a euro bought $1.2188, up from $1.2154.
* Light, sweet crude oil for October delivery settled at $43.88, up 30 cents, on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
* Gold for current delivery fell to $404.70 a troy ounce, from $405.00 on Wednesday, on the New York Mercantile Exchange's Commodity Exchange.