FINANCIAL MARKETS : Stocks : Dow Off Fraction in Quiet Market

From Associated Press

The stock market showed little change in slackened trading Friday, bogging down after Thursday's rally to new post-crash highs.

The Dow Jones index of 30 industrials slipped 0.19 to 2,418.80, finishing the week with a net gain of 9.34 points.

Advancing and declining issues ran about even in nationwide trading of New York Stock Exchange-listed stocks, with 738 up, 715 down and 502 unchanged.

Volume on the floor of the Big Board came to 158.39 million shares, down from 191.17 million in the previous session.

Nationwide, consolidated volume in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 188.50 million shares.

The Commerce Department reported Friday morning that the index of leading economic indicators fell 0.7% in March, following a 0.3% decline the month before.

The latest figure slightly exceeded the consensus estimate on Wall Street, and provided new evidence of the kind of slowing in business activity that many investors have been hoping for. Interest rates fell in the credit markets on the news.

Analysts said the response in the stock market was muted, however, by some misgivings about the potential implications of the figures for corporate earnings.

In addition, brokers said traders were leery of chasing after a rally that has proceeded for more than a month with few interruptions.

Nevertheless, the Dow index finished April with a gain of 155.18 points. For the first four months of 1989, the average is up 250.23 points, or 11.54%.

Among individual issues in Friday's trading, Ford Motor dropped 1/8 to 47 3/4 in active trading. On Thursday, the company reported higher first-quarter profits, but said its earnings for the full year might not equal the record total reported for 1988.

Elsewhere in the blue chip sector, General Electric rose 1/4 to 48 7/8, American Telephone & Telegraph dropped 1/4 to 34 7/8, Exxon lost 1/8 to 43 1/8 and USX was down 3/8 at 34 3/8.

Rite Aid fell 1 7/8 to 34 3/4. Ohio authorities arrested the company's president on bribery charges Thursday. In a statement Friday, Rite Aid called the charge "totally without merit."

Precious metals issues were weak as the price of gold fell $5.40 an ounce to $377.90 on the Commodity Exchange in New York. ASA Ltd. dropped 3/4 to 41 3/8; Battle Mountain Gold lost 3/8 to 13 3/8 and Freeport-McMoRan Gold dipped 1/2 to 11 1/2.

In Tokyo, stocks climbed to a record for the third straight day, with investors relieved that pressure on Japan to boost interest rates appeared to have subsided for the time being, brokers said.

The key Nikkei index gained 212.52 points, or 0.63%, to close at 33,713.35. But buyers thinned in the afternoon ahead of the weekend and three days of Japanese holidays at the end of next week.

In London, an easier Wall Street opening and a bout of profit taking kept British shares mixed. The stock exchange drifted to a dull close ahead of the long May Day weekend. The 100-share Financial Times index ended 2.3 points higher at 2,118, a rise of 47 points for the week.

Credit

Bond prices fell despite economic statistics indicating that the economy is cooling and interest rates may ease.

The credit market's bellwether 30-year Treasury issue was down 1/8 point, or $1.25 for every $1,000 face amount. Its yield, which moves inversely to price, rose to 8.92% from 8.90% late Thursday.

In the secondary market for Treasury securities, prices of short-term securities were down from 1/16 point to 5/32 point, intermediate governments fell 3/32 point to 7/32 point and long-term maturities slumped from 1/8 point to 3/16 point, according to Telerate Inc., a financial information service.

The movement of a point equals a change of $10 in the price of a bond with a $1,000 face value.

The Shearson Lehman Hutton daily Treasury bond index, which measures price movements on all outstanding Treasury issues with maturities of a year or longer, fell 2.06 to 1,132.74.

Corporate issues advanced. Moody's investment grade corporate bond index, which measures total return on a portfolio of 80 corporate bonds with maturities of five years or longer, rose 0.41 to 304.49.

The Bond Buyer index was unavailable.

Yields on three-month Treasury bills leaped to 8.78% as the discount rose 13 basis points to 8.49%. Yields on six-month bills rose to 9.05% as the discount rose 9 basis points to 8.55%. Yields on one-year bills rose to 9.19% as the discount gained 10 basis points to 8.51%.

A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point. The yield is the annualized return on an investment in a Treasury bill. The discount is the percentage that bills are selling below the face value, paid at maturity.

The federal funds rate, the interest on overnight loans between banks, traded at 9.8125%, unchanged from late Thursday.

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