The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 13.75 to 1,805.43. The Dow Jones industrial average advanced 30.17 to 9,949.75.
"The action today has been up, then off, then back up again. It's a lot of backing and filling and more of a reflex than any kind of a fundamental move. It's a very light volume day," said Michael Farr, president of Farr, Miller & Washington, a fund that oversees $375 million.
Overall, technology issues were a bit higher, which passed for good news since the Nasdaq has lost about 6 percent on the week. "The current tech stock swoon will end, but stocks probably won't stabilize until the late fourth quarter or first quarter of 2002," said Ulric Weil, an analyst at Friedman Billings Ramsey.
On the economic front, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan spoke about the effect of capital gains on the economy, and the University of Michigan's August consumer sentiment index showed that corporate layoffs are continuing to make consumers pessimistic.
Among technology stocks, chip-equipment makers were weak. Novellus Systems fell $2.42 to $44.31 after the company maintained its earnings and revenue outlook, but said orders will be on the low end of its prior range. The comments, made on its midquarter conference call, got a mixed reaction from analysts.
Robertson Stephens analyst Sue Billat cut Novellus to a "buy" from "strong buy."
Excite@Home fell 10 cents to 42 cents after the company said its cable partners will end their partnership with the high-speed Internet access company.
Ciena and Juniper Networks traded lower after Friedman Billings Ramsey started coverage of the companies with "underperform" ratings. Ciena was down 42 cents to $17.12. Juniper fell 43 cents to $14. Lucent Technologies, also started as an "underperform" by Friedman, gained 18 cents to $6.85.
Software maker Broadvision fell 22 cents, or 14.6 percent, to $1.29. The stock slid the past two sessions after a decision by Standard & Poors to drop Broadvision from the S&P 500 index.
Sun Microsystems gained 38 cents to $11.45 as the most active stock on U.S. markets, after falling for days on worries about near-term earnings.
Most other tech stocks traded flat or slightly higher, with companies such as Oracle and PeopleSoft posting small gains. Intel was up 83 cents to $27.96. Microsoft added 11 cents to $57.05, and Dell Computer advanced 25 cents to $21.38.
Staff and Reuters contributed to this report.