Stock prices turned in a mixed showing for the third straight session Wednesday as the market continued its struggle to pull out of last week's nose dive.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials dropped 9.14 to 1,769.40, while most other, broader market measures posted gains.
Volume on the New York Stock Exchange came to 141.04 million shares, compared to 131.18 million in the previous session.
With the Dow Jones industrial average as a gauge, it was the market's weakest session this week, after gains of 8.86 on Monday and 10.96 on Tuesday.
But by many other standards, it was the best day on Wall Street since before the selloff that hit last week. More NYSE issues posted gains than losses for the first time since Sept. 4, when the Dow stood at a record closing high of 1,919.71.
Analysts said the market was benefiting from some tentative bargain hunting by traders who believe that last week's record drop was unjustified by any fundamental change in the economic outlook.
The weakness in the Dow Jones industrial average was also attributed to a late round of computer-program selling by professional investors concentrating on the big-name stocks that make up the average.
Procter & Gamble fell 2 3/8 to 69; Du Pont fell 1 3/4 to 78, and International Business Machines lost 5/8 to 137 5/8.
Honeywell jumped 3 5/8 to 78 1/2. The company declined to comment during trading hours on rumors that it might be planning to break itself up, be acquired or conduct some other major transaction. Called by the NYSE, Honeywell cited a relatively minor announcement about a supercomputer marketing pact with a Japanese producer, Nippon Electric, but had no further comment.
After the market's close, Honeywell issued a brief statement saying it believes that "there is no substance to rumors of a takeover of the corporation."
In the daily tally on the Big Board, gainers outnumbered losers by more than three to two.
Large blocks of 10,000 or more shares traded on the NYSE totaled 2,710, compared to 2,552 Tuesday.
In the credit markets, bond prices were mixed within a narrow range in quiet trading.
The bellwether 30-year Treasury bond gained about 3/16 point, with its yield declining to 7.63%, from 7.66% late Tuesday.