Stock prices nudged higher in late trading Thursday after a lackluster performance for most of a session that was marked by confusion over the course of interest rates and the dollar.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials, off 5.08 points Wednesday, regained 2.98 to close at 1,284.01.
About eight stocks rose in price for every seven that fell on the New York Stock Exchange.
Stocks involved in takeovers or rumored to be acquisition targets were heavily traded.
Safeway, the object of takeover speculation, rose 1 1/8 to a new high of 33.
Phillips Petroleum, fighting a takeover attempt, rose 1 3/8 to 49. Analysts say chances appear to have dimmed for shareholder approval of a Phillips restructuring plan that would make takeovers more difficult.
Sperry, which gained 3 3/4 on Wednesday amid unconfirmed rumors that it was a takeover target, tumbled 1 7/8 to 51 3/4 when no deal materialized. ITT, which was among Sperry's rumored suitors, gained 3/8 to 30 after falling 1 7/8 on Wednesday.
On the American Stock Exchange, New Hampshire Ball Bearings shot up 3 3/8 to 63 after shareholders approved a $110-million takeover of the company by Minebea Co. of Japan. Minebea will pay $63.50 a share and may make additional payments of as much as $1.50 a share.
Big Board volume fell to 100.72 million shares from 107.69 million Wednesday.
Ford, up at 44 5/8, topped the active list as of the NYSE close, with more than 2 million shares changing hands. A block of 560,000 shares traded at 44 a share early in the day.
International Business Machines, often a market leader because of its prominence in the portfolios of investing institutions such as pension funds, rose 7/8 to 134 after falling 1 3/8 on Wednesday.
Pan Am, the parent of Pan American World Airways, fell 1/8 to 4 3/8 as the airline was struck by mechanics, baggage handlers, flight dispatchers and food service workers.
Large blocks of 10,000 or more shares traded on the NYSE totaled 1,884, compared to 2,020 on Wednesday.
Bond prices stabilized after plummeting in the previous session amid worries about the dollar.
Yields on 30-year Treasury bonds, which approached 12% late Wednesday at 11.99%, fell back to 11.90%.
In the secondary market for Treasury bonds, prices of short-term governments were off 2/32 point, intermediate maturities were up between 2/32 point and 10/32 point and long-term issues were up as much as 1/8 point, according to Salomon Bros. Inc.
Long-term bond prices had fallen as much as 2 full points on Wednesday.