The Dow Jones industrial average managed a gain of 3.53 points to close at 13,107.21 after spending much of the day in the red.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 1.03 points to 1,411.94 and the Nasdaq composite rose 1.83 points to 2,987.95.
Stocks rose in the morning before a mild midday sell-off, then recovered somewhat in the afternoon.
The morning gains came after the Commerce Department estimated that the U.S. economy expanded at a 2 percent annual rate from July through September. That was better than the previous quarter, and better than analysts expected, but not strong enough to bring down the unemployment rate.
Even economic data that is mixed or positive won’t outweigh weak earnings, said Lawrence Creatura, a portfolio manager with Federated Investors. Reports like the one on Friday that measure gross domestic product tend to be backwards-looking, while companies are offering forecasts about the months ahead, he said.