NEW YORK — The stock market managed a tiny gain Wednesday after trading in a narrow range for most of the session.
A few transportation issues and several stocks involved in takeover speculation advanced strongly, but most other gains and losses were small and scattered. Trading slowed from the previous session.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials, which climbed 2.47 points Tuesday, edged up 0.78 to 1,323.81.
More Advancing Issues
Advancing issues outpaced declines by a narrow margin on the New York Stock Exchange.
Big Board volume totaled 94.13 million shares, compared to 115.66 million Tuesday.
The market has taken some comfort from government reports of a pickup in the economy, analysts say. Such news may bode well for corporate profits as well as stock prices.
But they said there was some disappointment that the stock market had been unable to hold on to the gains that took prices briefly above record closing levels during Tuesday's session.
Most Actively Traded
Leading the list of most actively traded stocks on the NYSE was AT&T, which fell 1/2 to 23. It faces new pressure in the long-distance market because IBM proposed Tuesday to acquire a major stake in one of its rivals, MCI Communications.
IBM rose 1 1/8 to 123 1/8 on the NYSE, while MCI rose 1 1/8 to 10 5/8 in over-the-counter trading.
Montana Power was the second most actively traded issue on the NYSE, rising 3/8 to 28 3/8. Two 621,000-share blocks were traded, one at 27 5/8 and the other at 28 1/8, and a 463,000-share block crossed at 28. In all, there were 1,794 trades involving 10,000 or more shares, compared to 2,353 on Tuesday.
American Express fell 1/2 to 47 7/8 after a 650,000-share block traded at that price.
In the transportation group, Delta was up 2 7/8 at 49 7/8, NWA rose 5 to 54 and Santa Fe Southern Pacific rose 5/8 to 31 7/8.
Spokesman for both Delta and NWA said they knew of no specific reason for the market action.
American Hospital Supply, which has received separate merger and takeover bids, rose 1 1/8 to 37 7/8 after falling 1 3/4 a day earlier.
The federal funds rate, the interest on overnight loans between banks, was 7.375%, down from 7.438%.
In the bond market, prices turned mostly higher after a week of declines and despite a new round of federal borrowing.
The Treasury Department sold $6 billion in new seven-year notes at an average yield of 10.40%, the lowest since a similar issue was sold at an average yield of 9% on Aug. 15, 1979. The average yield was 11.85% at the previous auction of seven-year notes in April.
Secondary Market Up
In the secondary market for Treasury bonds, prices of short-term governments gained 2/32 point, intermediate maturities were up by between 4/32 point and 18/32 point and long-term issues climbed 20/32 point, according to the investment firm of Salomon Bros. The movement of a full point is equivalent to a change of $10 in the price of a bond with a $1,000 face value.
In corporate trading, industrials edged up 1/8 point and utilities rose point in light trading.
Among tax-exempt municipal bonds, general obligations were unchanged and revenue bonds rose 1/8 point in light activity, Salomon Bros. said.
Yields on three-month Treasury bills fell 12 basis points to 6.97%. Six-month bills dropped 10 basis points to 7.18%, and one-year bills were off 11 basis points at 7.38%. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point.
Yields on 30-year Treasury bonds fell to 10.63% from 10.70% on Tuesday.