Stock Market Edges Lower; Dow Off Fraction

Associated Press

Stock prices edged down today in uneventful and light trading.

The market's best-known indicator, the Dow Jones average of 30 industrials, began the session by rising nearly five points, then drifted downward the rest of the day.

The Dow Jones average fell 0.77 to 1,267.45.

Losers outpaced gainers by about four-to-three on the New York Stock Exchange.

Big Board volume totaled 99.25 million shares, against 95.93 million in the previous session.

The NYSE's composite index fell 0.20 to 103.65.

At the American Stock Exchange, the market-value index was down 0.10 at 224.99.

In positive developments for Wall Street, the Labor Department said this morning that consumer prices rose a modest 0.3% in February, or at an annual rate of 4.2%.

And, the Federal Reserve Board said after the stock market closed on Thursday that the nation's basic money supply, called M1, contracted by $2.1 billion in the week ended March 13, to a seasonally adjusted $570.6 billion.

That surprised money market analysts, who had expected an increase in the measure, and fueled hopes that the Fed wouldn't tighten its grip on credit, which would send interest rates higher.

Not so upbeat was a Commerce Department report this morning that orders received by factories for durable goods--items designed to last at least three years such as appliances and automobiles--dipped 0.2% last month after shooting up 3.2% in January.

Excluding the volatile military goods component of the figures, however, orders would have climbed 4.7% in February.

In addition, the Commerce Department said Thursday that it estimates the economy grew at an unexpectedly sluggish rate of 2.1% during the first three months of the year.

That news sent the dollar into a slump. Today, the U.S. currency turned up.

Bond prices slid and interest rates moved higher in early trading.

Analysts attributed the decline primarily to profit-taking in the wake of Thursday's healthy gains.

Bond prices rose as much as $7.50 for every $1,000 in face value on Thursday after reports of sluggish economic growth and a decline in the nation's money supply.

In the secondary market for Treasury bonds early today, prices of short-term governments fell 10/32 point, intermediate maturities fell by between 9/32 point and 21/32 point and long-term issues were off 7/8 point, according to the investment firm of Salomon Bros. Inc.

The movement of a full point is equivalent to a change of $10 in the price of a bond with a $1,000 face value.

In corporate trading, industrials and utilities were off point in light trading, Salomon Bros. said. It said among tax-exempt municipals, both general obligations and revenue bonds were off point.

Yields on three-month Treasury bills rose 10 basis points to 8.50%. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point. Six-month bills rose 10 basis points to 8.88% and one-year bills rose 12 basis points to 9.07%.

Yields on 30-year Treasury bonds rose to 11.83% from 11.72% late Thursday.

The federal funds rate, the interest on overnight loans between banks, traded at 8.688% unchanged from late Thursday.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World