The government’s report of a slightly smaller-than-expected U.S. trade deficit for January provided the impetus for a moderate advance in the stock market Wednesday.
The Dow Jones index of 30 industrials gained 14.29 to 2,320.54.
Advancing issues outnumbered declines by about 4 to 3 in nationwide trading of New York Stock Exchange-listed issues.
Big Board volume came to 167.07 million shares, up from 139.97 million Tuesday. Nationwide, consolidated volume in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 199.93 million shares.
The Commerce Department reported that the nation’s trade deficit narrowed to $9.49 billion in January from a revised $10.99 billion the month before.
The data, formerly reported in two ways, is now posted under a single method that excludes costs of freight and insurance.
The latest figure came in below most Wall Street economists’ estimates, prompting some buying by traders.
Michael Metz, a market analyst with Oppenheimer & Co., said traders were pleased by declines in U.S. imports and exports, which investors interpreted as indicating a possible cooling-off of the economy.
But the market’s response was muted by worries that less favorable news might be looming when the government issues its report Friday on the producer price index of finished goods for February.
Gainers among the blue chips included American Telephone & Telegraph, up 7/8 at 32 5/8; General Electric, up 1/8 at 45 7/8, and Philip Morris, up 3/8 at 118 5/8.
DWG Corp., the owner of Arby’s fast-food chain and Royal Crown soft drinks rose 1 3/8 to 11 1/8. Royal Crown is facing a takeover offer from a group led by New York investor Andrew Heine. Trafalgar Holdings Ltd. has been hired by the group to raise financing for the offer.
SSMC, which received a modified takeover bid from a group led by Vincent Tan, a Malaysian investor, picked up 1 1/8 to 35 1/4.
Hospital Corp. of America rose 1/8 to 49 1/4 in active trading after the company’s shareholdersapproved a buyout by a management group.
Sea Containers Ltd. gained 1 3/8 to 45 7/8 on top of an 8 1/2-point jump Tuesday, when investors learned that Stena AB of Sweden has acquired an 8.17% interest in the company and may seek to gain control of it.
Mesa Limited Partnership dropped 7/8 to 11 3/4. The partnership disclosed plans to reduce its quarterly payout later this year because of weak natural gas prices.
Smithkline Beckman rose 1 1/4 to 54 after signing an agreement with a British firm to developand market a new treatment for arthritis.
The Wilshire index of 5,000 equities closed up 12.367 at 2,929.483.
The NYSE’s composite index of all its listed common stocks gained 0.74 to 166.67.
Standard & Poor’s industrial index rose 2.02 to 342.97; its 500-stock composite index was up 1.53 at 296.67.
The NASDAQ composite index advanced 0.97 to 406.98; the American Stock Exchange index closed at 331.79, up 1.26.
Stocks surged in active, broad-based buying on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Wednesday that pushed the Nikkei index above 32,000 for the first time since March 3. The Nikkei 225-share index surged 376.13 points, or 1.19%, to close at 32,100.48 in the second-largest gain this year.
On the London Stock Exchange, however, share prices ended lower. The Financial Times 100-share index fell 4.2 to 2,121.2. The index was down as much as 16.4 points at mid-morning.