The Dow Jones industrial average rose 19.60 to 5,666.88, erasing an early afternoon deficit.
Advancers led decliners by 1,457 to 906 on the New York Stock Exchange. NYSE volume totaled 343.44 million shares vs. 338.36 million in the previous session.
Broader indexes were modestly higher, with the Nasdaq index showing the biggest gain after an encouraging earnings report late yesterday from Dell Computer.
The NYSE composite rose 1.02 to 353.64, and the S&P 500 list climbed 1.86 to 662.06. The Nasdaq composite advanced 7.36 to 1,133.51, and the Amex market value index rose 0.55 to 550.34.
In a report monitored closely for clues about possible interest rate moves by the Federal Reserve, the Labor Department reported that workplace productivity fell at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the second quarter.
Analysts, who had expected a larger 0.5 percent fall, fear that the tight labor market could lead to increased wages that could be passed on to consumers.
The Commerce Department, meanwhile, reported that business inventories edged up 0.1 percent in June as sales slipped 0.5 percent, the first decline in five months.
There was little market reaction to the reports, which followed yesterday's news that consumer prices and retail sales rose more than expected in July. Bonds and stocks slid sharply on those reports.