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Investors Awaiting Trade Data, Analysts Say : Dow Up 3.56 in Mostly Lower Market

Times Wire Services

Blue chip stocks closed marginally higher Monday in a listless session as many market participants were absent because of the Jewish New Year holiday.

The Dow Jones industrial index finished up 3.56 at 2,072.37, extending Friday’s modest advance of 5.69 points.

But broader indicators showed the general market finishing slightly lower. Standard & Poor’s 500 index slipped 0.37 to 266.47 and the more broadly based New York Stock Exchange composite index fell 0.21 to 150.63.

But declining issues outnumbered advances by nearly 4 to 3 in nationwide trading of New York Stock Exchange-listed stocks.

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Big Board volume came to 114.88 million shares, down from 141.54 million Friday and the lightest total since a 108.72 million-share day on Aug. 30.

Nationwide, consolidated volume in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 133.85 million shares.

Market analysts said many investors sat out the session ahead of U.S. trade data due Wednesday and Friday’s triple expiration of stock index futures, stock index options and individual stock options, which usually provokes volatile trading.

“I think people are waiting to see what the (July) trade number will be,” said Marshall Acuff, a portfolio strategist with Smith Barney, Harris Upham & Co.

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Expect Little Effect

“Investors are looking for trends or themes that might have some durability,” he said. Although several recent economic reports, particularly the August unemployment data, have suggested a slowing in the economy’s growth, Acuff said investors are still seeking confirmation.

Many observers believe, however, that the trade figures are unlikely to stir the market out of its recent torpor unless they contain some big surprise.

After improving steadily earlier in the year, the trade deficit has lately shown signs of resisting much further narrowing.

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Gary Ciminero, chief economist for Fleet/Norstar Financial Group, said that until the market gets some clear direction on inflation and the economy, “The short-term trend is probably sideways.”

Gainers among the blue chips included General Electric, up 1/2 at 42 1/2; Ford Motor, up 1 at 51; Philip Morris, up 1 at 95 7/8, and Coca-Cola, up 1/8 at 42.

But International Business Machines lost 3/4 to 113 5/8 and American Telephone & Telegraph was down 3/8 at 25 1/8.

Foreign Markets Rise

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Energy stocks turned in a mixed showing as oil prices staged a late rebound from their recent slide. Atlantic Richfield rose 1 3/8 to 79 5/8; Amoco gained 3/4 to 73, and Chevron was up 1/8 at 43 3/8, but Exxon lost to 44 7/8 and Mobil was off 1/8 at 42 5/8.

Wilson Foods climbed 1 1/2 to 13 3/4 in the over-the-counter market. The company, which has been fighting a takeover bid by Doskocil Cos., agreed to be acquired by International Fish & Meat USA Inc. for $13.50 a share.

Share prices also finished slightly higher in sluggish trading on the London Stock Exchange, with the market lacking a motivating force to spur it into action.

The Financial Times 100-share index was up 6.2 points at 1,744.6 at the close of trading.

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