The Nasdaq composite index closed up 45.38 at 2,441.30, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index ticked up 4.94 to 1,300.80. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 48.80 to 10,572.55.
The gain was the Nasdaq's first rise after four days of losses.
The Nasdaq composite index fell as much as 108 points, or 4 percent, in early trading Monday but managed to cut its losses and close down just 11.73 points at 2,395.92.
"It's just a volatile and nervous time right now, so it doesn't take much to tip the apple cart, as they say," said Peter Coolidge, senior equity trader at Brean Murray.
The fat cats of the tech sector helped keep the Nasdaq in positive territory Tuesday. Microsoft gained $2.88 to $51.81; Oracle rose $1.56 to $31.50; and Sun Microsystems advanced $1.25 to $29.44.
The chance of missing potential gains from a market bounce has begun to gnaw at the minds of investors, which can persuade some to start buying.
"There's as much a fear of missing a bottom as there is of losing money on the long side," said Arthur Hogan, chief market analyst at Jeffries & Co.
In fact, bad news from bellwether stocks such as Nokia did not rattle the broader markets.
"The markets haven't heard anything that they have not already known," said Brian Belski, a fundamental market strategist at U.S. Bancorp Piper Jaffray.
Belski said he believes earnings season might show some relative upside from a trading standpoint since investors have already been carpet bombed with bad news.
Other Wall Street watchers agreed. "So much bad news has been priced into this market that it is going to be easy to meet or beat the Street," Hogan said.
Investor tolerance for bad news will be tested when earnings reports from Yahoo and Motorola hit the Street later this week.
Meanwhile, positive analyst comments on AT&T sparked some trading in the telecom sector.
Morgan Stanley analyst Simon Flannery raised Ma Bell to "strong buy" from "neutral" and set a 12-month price target of $35 a share. AT&T rose $2.44, or 12 percent, to $22.50. The stock has traded within a range of $16.50 to $60.81 over the past 52 weeks.
AT&T also announced the opening of two new Web hosting facilities and gave details of plans to double its capacity by building eight new data centers this year.
Other telecom companies also gained ground. WorldCom rose $1.63, or nearly 9 percent, to $19.81, and Qwest Communications International advanced $2.88 to $44.88.
Of the 18 sectors tracked by CNET Investor, server-software makers were the day's largest gainers, climbing nearly 6 percent. Wireless companies posted the sharpest drops, falling about 4 percent.
The CNET tech index rose 33.74 to 2,104.01. Advancers whacked decliners, with 65 of the 97 stocks in the index rising, 30 falling and two remaining unchanged.
Mobile phone companies caught some earnings static.
Shares of cellular phone maker Nokia fell $3.81, or almost 9 percent, to $39.31 after the company reported that mobile sales for 2000 rose 64 percent, falling short of Wall Street expectations.
Nokia said it sold 128 million mobile phones last year, a figure estimated to be 30 percent of the worldwide market. Analysts had expected Nokia to sell about 140 million phones. The company said the world market grew about 45 percent to 405 million phones in 2000.
Shares of mobile phone maker Ericsson fell 56 cents to $10.81, while Motorola dropped $1.06 to $20.69.
E-tailers traded heavily. Amazon.com rose $1.44, or about 10 percent, to $16.38. The company announced late Monday that it expects to report a fourth-quarter operating loss of less than $67.2 million on revenue of more than $960 million. The consensus forecast of First Call's analyst survey had been for revenue of $1 billion for the quarter.
eBay rose $2.75, or nearly 9 percent, to $33.38.
Time Warner gained $3.76, or 6 percent, to $64.40 after Prudential Securities analyst Katherine Styponias raised the media giant to "strong buy" from "accumulate." Time Warner's merger partner America Online rose $2.82, or 7 percent, to $42.85.
Excite@Home also gained from good news. The broadband Internet service provider said Tuesday its worldwide subscriber base jumped just over 27 percent in the fourth quarter, to 2.95 million. The company's shares advanced $1.16, or 21 percent, to $6.63.