US and European equity markets settled down Thursday after days of upheaval driven by fears of global economic weakness, although anxiety remained high.
US stocks finished the session little changed, rallying from deep losses during the morning hours that pushed the major indices close to the 10 percent pullback that qualifies as a full-blown correction.
Leading European indices followed a similar path, with the German DAX fighting back into positive territory and bourses in Paris and London cutting the worst of their losses following rollercoaster sessions.
"A combination of factors ensured the perfect storm that has been brewing since the start of the week continued to rage on in full force," said Kash Kamal, an analyst at Sucden Financial.
"Worries regarding the political stability in Greece and its already fragile bailout plan combined with the slowing growth outlook across the eurozone after weaker than expected macro data... have seen a protracted sell-off across the majority of risk assets."
Market remains fixated on the prospect that the eurozone could be heading into a fresh crisis.
Investors are also uneasy at the potential threat of Ebola virus, which has dominated the US media this week following fresh cases in Dallas.
Still, some saw signs of hope as Thursday's session wound to a close. For one thing, the Russell 2000, a closely-watched small cap index in the US, rose 1.3 percent, its second increase in a row.
"The stock market is showing some interesting signs of life," said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.
- US data improves -
US stocks appeared headed for another dismal performance early in the day as fears over the European economy took hold.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average sank more than 200 points, while the Nasdaq Composite Index teetered into correction territory after disappointing results from Netflix tainted one of the tech-rich index's biggest stars.
In the end, the Dow declined 24.50 (0.15 percent) to 16,117.24, while the broad-based S&P 500 edged up 0.27 (0.01 percent) to 1,862.76. Nasdaq gained 2.07 (0.05 percent) to 4,217.39.
Investors took heart from a 1.0 percent gain in US industrial production in September and a drop in weekly jobless claims to a 14-year low
Analysts also cited comments from James Bullard, head of the St Louis branch of the Fed, who suggested the central bank could extend its bond-buying program rather than winding it down, as had been expected.
In one of the day's more closely watched earnings announcements, Delta Air Lines offered a bullish forecast for the fourth quarter and expressed confidence that Ebola would not significantly affect airline travel.
"This isn't the first communicable disease that we have faced as an airline or an industry, and we are well versed at managing these type of events," said Delta chief operating officer Gil West.
Delta finished 2.9 percent higher. Competitors United Airlines (+2.9 percent) and American Airlines (+4.0 percent) also rose.
But disappointing Google earnings released after Thursday's market close could set up a nervous Friday session.
Google's third quarter profit fell five percent from the same period a year ago to $2.8 billion as analysts rued disappointing online ad revenues.
Google shares fell 2.2 percent in afterhours trading.
-A nervous Europe-
In Europe, investors were gripped by panic following weak eurozone inflation data, poor demand at a Spanish bond auction and spiking yields for bonds from Greece and other struggling economies.
Indexes around Europe dropped more than three percent after the EU and ECB scrambled to promise Greece that its banks would still have Brussels' support when it leaves its debt-rescue programme.
Still, Frankfurt's DAX index added 0.13 percent compared with Wednesday's closing level to 8,582.90 points.
London's benchmark FTSE 100 index ended down 0.25 percent at 6,195.91 points, while in Paris, the CAC 40 lost 0.54 percent to 3,918.62 points. Both had been much lower earlier in the session.
But a run of weak economic reports adds to concern that the eurozone could slip into a dangerous spiral of deflation, which stifles economic growth and could hurt many of the bloc's already cash-strapped governments.