Stock prices chalked up a slight gain in quiet trading Monday as traders cautiously evaluated plans to narrow the federal budget deficit.
Trading set its slowest pace in six weeks as the Dow Jones index of 30 industrials, up 18.24 points on Friday, rose another 9.45 to 1,923.08.
Advancing issues outnumbered declines by about 9 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange, with 888 up, 687 down and 395 unchanged.
Big Board volume came to 143.16 million shares, down from 189.17 million on Friday and the lightest total since a 141.87-million-share day Oct. 12, when many market participants were taking Columbus Day off.
Analysts said the budget proposals announced Friday by negotiators from the White House and Congress fell short of any dramatic action to revive confidence in the financial markets. But they also said most investors had been well aware that progress had been slow in the talks and thus weren't looking for any big surprises.
As they stand, the measures still must be approved by the full House and Senate.
In the meantime, brokers said market participants might shift their focus once again to the outlook for interest rates and the prospective impact of last month's stock market crash on the producing and consuming economy.
Gainers among the blue chips included Philip Morris, up 1 at 91; McDonald's, up 7/8 at 45 7/8; American Telephone & Telegraph, up 1/8 at 28 3/8, and Du Pont, up 1 7/8 at 83 1/8. However, General Electric was unchanged at 45 and International Business Machines slipped to 117 1/2
E. F. Hutton Group jumped 7 1/8 to 27 3/8. The company said it had received signs of interest from unidentified sources about a possible takeover or other investment in Hutton.
Subsequently, Shearson Lehman Bros. Holdings said it planned to talk with Hutton about a possible merger.
The news gave a lift to some other depressed securities industry stocks. Salomon Inc. picked up 1 1/8 to 18 7/8, Merrill Lynch rose 1 1/8 to 22, Paine Webber advanced 2 3/8 to 18 and First Boston climbed 7/8 to 24 1/8.
Cleveland-Cliffs climbed 2 5/8 to 15. The company said it was pursuing efforts toward a sale or recapitalization.
Northeast Utilities led the NYSE active list, up 1/8 at 21 on volume of more than 21.6 million shares. Analysts said much of the trading in the stock involved strategies based on the company's impending quarterly dividend.
The NYSE's composite index of all its listed common stocks rose 0.57 to 136.13.
Nationwide turnover in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 164.53 million shares.
Large blocks of 10,000 or more shares traded on the NYSE totaled 2,288, compared to 3,330 on Friday.
Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials rose 1.20 to 278.01, and S&P;'s 500-stock composite index was up 0.99 at 242.99.
The NASDAQ composite index for the over-the-counter market gained 0.64 to 313.13. At the American Stock Exchange, the market-value index closed at 243.81, up 1.23.
The Wilshire index of 5,000 equities closed at 2,361.536, up 9.601.
Stock prices climbed in London and other European markets but fell earlier in Asia, where the Japanese market was closed for a holiday.
In London, the Financial Times-Stock Exchange index of 100 shares rallied 24.3 points to close at 1,657.7.
In Tokyo this morning, the market's key indicator, the 225-share Nikkei stock average, rose steadily in early trading. It closed the morning session at 22,935.65, up 230.09 points.