The Dow Jones Industrial Average rebounded to finish up Friday, a day after plummeting 513 points [4.3 percent] amid fears the global economy may be headed for a new downturn.
The key U.S. stock index rose 61 points [one-half of a percent] in a day of volatile trading. The other major U.S. indexes, the NASDAQ and S&P 500, finished lower Friday.
Asian stock markets dropped sharply Friday, and European markets also showed losses.
American markets teetered between gains and losses Friday, but moved ahead on news that debt-plagued Italy will speed up a package of austerity reforms to balance its budget in 2013, a year earlier than originally planned.
In other news Friday, a U.S. government report showed that the nation's unemployment rate declined slightly last month. The report said the economy added 117,000 new jobs last month. That's more than expected, but still below the figure required for sustained economic growth.
The U.S. economy has largely stagnated this year, adding to worries for investors already deeply concerned about the spreading debt for European governments.
On Friday, Tokyo's Nikkei index closed down 3.72 percent, to its lowest level in five months, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng plunged more than 4 percent. Stock indexes in London and Frankfurt dropped by more than 2.7 percent. The Paris exchange fell 1.3 percent.
In the United States on Thursday, the Dow index suffered its biggest drop since October 2008, plummeting 513 points, or 4.3 percent. Other major stock indexes, the NASDAQ and the S&P 500, also fell sharply. Financial analysts say investors are concerned the U.S. economy could be headed back into a recession, which would be its second in three years.
The U.S. is the world's largest economy. Investors have voiced little confidence in the country's sluggish recovery, though, even with the agreement this week by U.S. President Barack Obama and Congress to increase the nation's borrowing limit, and avoid an unprecedented default on the government's financial obligations.