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Dow Edges Up 8.58 in Slow Trading

From Times Wire Services

The stock market pieced together a moderate gain Friday in a quiet session.

The Dow Jones index of 30 industrials rose 8.58 to 2,274.29, stretching its gain for the week to 28.75 points.

Advancing issues outnumbered declines by about 3 to 2 in nationwide trading of New York Stock Exchange-listed stocks.

Volume on the floor of the Big Board came to 151.79 million shares, down from 161.98 million in the previous session.

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Blue chips have been depressed by fears of future rate hikes, which hurt stocks by raising corporate borrowing costs and luring investors away to interest-bearing assets.

But Friday’s trading was listless, analysts said. Blue chips attracted interest only because investors sought cheap purchases after last week’s 79.28-point Dow loss.

“There is a tug of war in investors’ minds between inflation fears and recession fears. This indecision caused a directionless market today,” said Donald Hays, director of investment strategy at Wheat First Securities.

Texas Air, the most active issue on the American Stock Exchange, dropped 1/4 to 13 as President Bush decided against intervening in the labor dispute involving the company’s Eastern Airlines subsidiary.

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Among other airline issues, Delta Air Lines gained 1 5/8 to 56 1/4, Pan Am rose 1/4 to 4 1/4 and NWA climbed 1 1/4 to 69 1/4. But UAL dropped 1 3/8 to 119 and AMR was down 1/8 at 58 3/4.

TW Services rose 5/8 to 28 1/2 in active trading. The stock traded lower for much of the session on word that a Delaware court upheld the “poison pill” defense the company is employing to fight a takeover bid by Coniston Partners.

In foreign trading, Tokyo shares fell amid a slumping bond market after Bank of Japan Governor Satoshi Sumita said Japan will take adequate, early action to maintain stable prices if necessary. The Nikkei 225-share average fell 73.63 to 32,000.10.

On the London Stock Exchange, shares closed firmer after Wall Street recovered from a lower opening. The Financial Times 100-share index closed 19.5 higher at 2,059.2.

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Bond prices were mixed in lackluster trading, finishing little changed despite early declines in the face of an overnight drop by the dollar.

The Treasury’s benchmark 30-year bond was down 1/16 point late Friday. Its yield, which moves in the opposite direction from its price, was unchanged from late Thursday at 9.12%.

After surging Thursday, bond prices opened sharply lower in response to the dollar’s decline overnight in foreign exchange overseas, analysts said. A declining dollar hurts bond prices by reducing yields available to foreign investors, who are sizeable holders of dollar-denominated debt.

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The market recovered some ground after reports that Venezuela was making payments on its $33-billion foreign debt conditional on the success of its government austerity program. The dollar finished lower, but did not drag the bond market with it, analysts said.

The federal funds rate, the interest on overnight loans between banks, was quoted at 9.50%, down from 9.813% late Thursday.


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