NEW YORK — Wall Street began the third quarter with an erratic session Tuesday as a mix of news made it clear the country is still deep in economic problems but may have some positive trends.

Prices rose early in the session, fell sharply for much of the day and then recovered in late afternoon. The uneven performance wasn't surprising — some bargain hunting was to be expected after a dismal first half.

Still, the first session of the second half brought more discouraging news for investors: Oil rose again toward record high levels, a report showed that U.S. manufacturers are still under duress and Ford Motor Co. said its June sales tumbled. This all raised the market's fears that the economy — still reeling from soaring commodities prices and the lingering credit crisis — is not any closer to turning around.

Yet General Motors Corp. had better than expected sales. And while the Institute for Supply Management had an overall disappointing report on manufacturing in June, it also reported strong exports for U.S. factories.

Volume was light, and that likely contributed to the price swings.

The Dow Jones industrial average, down more than 150 points earlier, was up 14.33, or 0.13 percent, at 11,364.34, while the Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 1.96, or 0.15 percent, to 1,281.96, and the Nasdaq composite was up 4.94, or 0.22 percent, at 2,297.92.


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