"You saw some late program trading," said Rick Meckler, partner at Cherry Lane Investments in New Vernon, New Jersey. The stock market "has met every attempt to sell it off with more (buying), and the hope of some of the people buying late is that the news on the virus would be muted for the three days, and that with three days' time, there will be just a little less anxiousness about it."
The U.S. market will be closed on Monday for Presidents Day.
A recent Reuters poll showed the world's second-biggest economy will grow at its slowest pace in the current quarter since the financial crisis, but the downturn will be short-lived if the outbreak is contained.
Some investors said they thought the economic impact of the outbreak would not be as deep as feared, with some also noting the spread beyond China has not been as rapid as feared.
"Investors are definitely keeping an eye on how much the coronavirus is spreading and where it spreads to. It still remains the biggest risk going forward," said Robert Pavlik, chief investment strategist and senior portfolio manager at SlateStone Wealth LLC in New York.
MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.06%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 25.23 points, or 0.09%, to 29,398.08, the S&P 500 gained 6.22 points, or 0.18%, to 3,380.16 and the Nasdaq Composite added 19.21 points, or 0.2%, to 9,731.18.
Chipmaker Nvidia late Thursday forecast first-quarter revenue that topped Wall Street expectations.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.13%.
Oil prices rose more than1% on the day and posted their first weekly gain since early January amid hopes demand will rebound.
Brent crude rose 98 cents, or 1.74%, to settle at $57.32 a barrel. It rose 5.23% since last Friday, its first weekly increase in six weeks. U.S. crude futures gained 63 cents, or 1.23%, to settle at $52.05. The weekly rise was 3.44%.
In currency markets, the dollar index rose 0.09%, with the euro down 0.09% to $1.083.
But concerns about growth in the eurozone are expected to keep weighing on the single currency.
U.S. Treasury yields declined as investors bought safe-haven government debt ahead of the long holiday weekend after soft retail sales data.
U.S. Commerce Department data showed U.S. consumer spending appeared to have slowed further in January, with sales at clothing stores declining by the most since 2009, which could raise concerns about the economy's ability to continue its moderate expansion.
Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 9/32 in price to yield 1.5883%, from 1.617% late on Thursday.
In the precious metals market, U.S. gold futures settled up 0.5% at $1,586.40.
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(Additional reporting by Medha Singh in Bengaluru, Ross Kerber in Boston, and Stephanie Kelly in New York; Editing by Jane Merriman, Chris Reese and Dan Grebler)
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