FINANCIAL MARKETS : Blue Chips Rebound From Selloff

From Times Staff and Wire Services

The U.S. stock market recov ered its poise Tuesday after Friday's selloff, but buyers confined their interest mainly to big-name companies.

Several widely watched Wall Street indicators finished modestly higher, but the broad range of stocks had a mixed session.

The Dow Jones industrial average, which established closing records twice last week before surrendering nearly 34 points on Friday in options-related selling, rose 10.43 points to 3,963.97.

The New York Stock Exchange composite index edged up 0.15 point to 261.98, and Standard & Poor's 500 stock index rose 0.77 points to 482.74.

But losers led the NYSE tally at the close with 1,180 stocks falling and 1,072 rising.

And the Nasdaq Stock Market composite index fell 2.35 points to 784.61.

The Big Board's volume came to 309.05 million shares, compared to 354.62 million Friday. Financial markets were closed Monday for Presidents Day.

Market analysts were relieved that stocks fared as well as they did given Friday's setback.

"I think we got a little scare on Friday with that selloff," said Bill Allyn, director of equity trading at Jefferies & Co. "In view of that, the market made a good account of itself."

Treasury bond yields, meanwhile, rose modestly for a third consecutive session as traders anticipated note auctions this week and coming testimony by Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan. Greenspan is expected to shed some light on the central bank's opinion as to whether further rate increases are needed to keep inflation under control.

By day's end, the Treasury's main 30-year bond yield rose to 7.60% from 7.58%. Its price, which moves in the opposite direction, was down 7/32 point, or $2.19 per $1,000 in face value.

A plunge in the dollar against the German mark helped put upward pressure on bond yields. But bond trading volume was described as extremely low, with outside factors having only a minor impact. Many investors apparently extended the three-day holiday weekend break.

The dollar was shaken again by Mexico's financial problems and by fears that Germany may soon raise short-term interest rates. In New York, the dollar tumbled to 1.470 German marks, down from 1.489 on Friday. It also fell against the Japanese yen, closing at 97.10 yen, down from 97.25.

Among Tuesday's highlights:

* U.S.-traded Mexican shares slumped with the Mexico City markets' latest dive.

The Bolsa index ended at a 19-month closing low of 1,679.19, down 86.95 points.

In New York, Telmex dropped 1 to 29, and media conglomerate Televisa lost 1 1/4 to 17 5/8.

* Shawmut National jumped 4 3/8 to 25 in response to the announcement that Fleet Financial Group plans to acquire the bank for $3.7 billion in stock. Fleet fell 3 1/4 to 30 3/8 and also was active.

* Tobacco stocks felt the heat from unfavorable legal actions. A ruling by a federal judge Friday cleared the way for the first national class-action lawsuit seeking damages on behalf of U.S. smokers. Philip Morris dropped 2 3/8 to 57 7/8, RJR Nabisco Holdings fell 1/4 to 5 3/8 and American Brands shed 1/2 to 37.

In Tokyo, the 225-share Nikkei average ended up 139.77 points at 18,096.25. Frankfurt's 30-share DAX average lost 4.50 points to close at 2,097.04, and London's benchmark Financial Times 100-share average closed up 4.8 points at 3,023.4 points.

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