US stocks move higher in volatile trade

US stocks were higher at midday Friday amid erratic trade that analysts attributed to competing headlines over the August US jobs report and the G20 debate among global leaders over Syria.

At 1645 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 9.3730.56 (0.06 percent) to 14,946.85.

The broad-based S&P 500 added 2.56 (0.15 percent) at 1,657.64, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite increased 3.81 (0.10 percent) to 3,662.59.

Markets opened higher Friday but soon veered into negative territory for a stretch before going positive again late morning.

Michael James at Wedbush Securities attributed the volatility in part to low market turnover with some traders still out due to the Jewish New Year holiday.

"With fewer people and thinner volumes, there's less liquidity and the markets are much more susceptible to big swings," James said.

The Labor Department said the US added 169,000 jobs in August, below analyst projections of 177,000. The report also lowered the estimates for jobs added in June and July.

The jobs report yielded competing interpretations over what the reports said about economic growth and meant for the Federal Reserve's plans to taper its stimulus program.

"The futures were up because the initial reaction was 'Hey, that means the Fed is not going to taper,' but the market has to start questioning why the Fed is not tapering," said Michael Gayed, chief investment strategist at Pension Partners.

The continuing dispute between Russia and the US over Syria also troubled investors, as US President Barack Obama and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin failed Friday to end their bitter dispute over US military action against Damascus at the G20 meeting.

Real estate investment trust American Tower Corp. gained 4.5 percent after announcing a $4.8 billion acquisition of Global Tower Partners.

Yelp, the popular crowd-sourced reviews website, rose 6.2 percent after Deutsche Bank initiated coverage with a "buy" rating.

"Yelp has a large and rapidly growing audience, strong proprietary content across local verticals, and should see increasing traction with local advertisers on a multi-year basis," Deutsche Bank said.

VeriFone Systems, which provides electronic payment systems, jumped 10.3 percent after earnings of 24 cents per share exceeded expectations by 4 cents.

Bond prices rose. The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell to 2.91 percent from 2.98 percent Thursday, while the 30-year dropped to 3.84 percent from 3.88 percent. Prices and yields move inversely.

jmb/pmh