U.S. stocks opened lower, following European markets, after Greece said it will miss deficit reduction targets it agreed to as part of its bailout deal. Benchmark indexes in Germany, France and Spain fell 2 percent.
The Dow was down as many as 90 points shortly after the market opened but pared those losses after the Institute of Supply Management said its gauge of manufacturing did better than Wall Street had predicted in September. It was the first increase after two months of declines. Exports, production and hiring at factories all picked up during the month.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 19 points, or 0.2 percent, to 10,935 at noon Eastern. The S&P 500 edged up less than a point to 1,131. The Nasdaq composite lost 2, or 0.1 percent, to 2,412.
"The market is continuing to trade based on what is happening in Europe, and that is going to overshadow everything else," said Quincy Krosby, market strategist at Prudential Financial. "The math (for the Greek bailout) didn't add up a year ago, and the math doesn't add up today. The market knows that and is waiting for the Europeans to acknowledge it."
Concerns about Europe's debt problems helped the U.S. dollar gain 0.8 percent against the euro. That could hurt large U.S. companies that rely on exports by making their products more expensive overseas. Coca-Cola Co. fell 1.6 percent. Caterpillar, which sells construction equipment globally, dipped 0.8 percent.
There were other signs that the U.S. economy may not be as gloomy as many think. Spending on the construction of homes, office buildings and other projects also increased in August after a big decline in July, the Commerce Department reported. Construction spending rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $799.1 billion, up 4.8 percent from an 11-year low hit in March.
Concerns that the U.S. economy is headed for another recession helped send the S&P 500 index, the basis for most mutual funds that invest in U.S. stocks, down 14 percent over the three months that ended in September. It was the worst quarter for the stock market since the financial crisis of 2008.
In corporate news, Yahoo gained 5.3 percent to $13.87, the most of any stock in the S&P 500, after the head of Chinese Internet company Alibaba Group Holdings said he would be interested in buying the company. Yahoo, which recently ousted Carol Bartz as its CEO, has been trying to decide whether to sell parts of the company.
Netflix rose 4 percent to $177.82 after an analyst from Morgan Stanley upgraded the company following a sharp drop in its stock price. Netflix has plummeted 60 percent from its recent high of $304 because of a drop in subscribers and a plan to split its streaming service from its DVD-by-mail business.