The Dow Jones industrial average came back from a 112-point loss and was up 16 points at 12,893 shortly before noon Eastern time Wednesday.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index was down less than a point at 1,398 and the Nasdaq composite was off a point at 2,966.
It was another day of knee-jerk responses in the stock market to headlines about talks between the White House and Congress about how to meet a year-end deadline for a budget deal.
Investors were encouraged by hopeful comments from House Speaker John Boehner. Republicans have been softening their opposition to increasing tax revenue as part of a comprehensive agreement.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)