NEW YORK — The stock market's post-holiday wavering continued Thursday with prices finishing slightly lower.
Trading volume picked up a bit, however, with the help of some major block trades.
Airline and other transportation issues peppered the list of losers, as did several computer and retail stocks. But oil stocks moved ahead.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials slipped 0.89 to 1,325.83--its fourth consecutive loss of less than 5 points--despite an upturn by one of its leading components, IBM, which climbed 1 1/8 to 128 3/8.
The Dow Jones transportation average skidded 7.14 to 672.52, while its utility index gained 0.31 to 159.37.
Declines overall outpaced advances by about seven to six on the New York Stock Exchange, whose composite index edged down 0.06 to 108.55.
Big Board volume swelled to 94.48 million shares from 85.51 million Wednesday.
Auto stocks mostly rose following a report of higher sales in August. General Motors gained 7/8 to 67 1/8 and Ford Motor moved up 1/8 to 44 1/8. Chrysler was unchanged at 37 1/8.
Major U.S. retailers, meanwhile, reported a wide range of sales gains for August, after which most retail stocks fell. Industry leader Sears, Roebuck, whose sales edged up 1.4%, dropped 3/8 to 34 3/8. K mart fell 1/2 to 31 5/8 and Woolworth declined 3/4 to 48 1/2.
In the weakening airline sector, UAL tumbled 1 to 52, AMR fell 7/8 to 43 and Delta lost 3/8 to 44.
ITT fell 1 to 33 after a 1.25-million-share block crossed at 33 3/8.
On the upside, Avon Products jumped 2 1/8 to 24 3/8 in heavy trading after Avon said it plans to buy 25% of its common stock in the open market. Avon also said it wants to sell its Mallinckrodt division.
Orange Co. rose 2 1/8 to 10 1/2 and was the NYSE's top percentage gainer after saying that an employee group is mulling a leveraged buy-out of about $11 a share on a fully diluted basis.
Nationwide turnover in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 114.84 million shares.
Large blocks of 10,000 or more shares traded on the NYSE totaled 1,843, compared to 1,619 on Wednesday.
Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials slipped 0.04 to 208.14, and S&P's 500-stock composite index was off 0.10 at 187.27.
The Wilshire index of 5,000 equities closed at 1,937.211, down 1.539.
At the American Stock Exchange, the market-value index rose 0.05 to 232.45.
Bond Prices Lower
The NASDAQ composite index for the over-the-counter market closed at 295.28, down 0.30.
In the bond market, prices fell in quiet activity as traders responded to reports that pointed to an increase in consumer spending.
All of the declines came before the release of a Federal Reserve Board report late in the day of a $2.4-billion surge in the basic money supply in late August, which was in line with expectations.
Yields on 30-year Treasury bonds rose from 10.40% late Wednesday to 10.49% before the release of the money supply figures, then dipped to 10.47% at day's end.
In the secondary market for Treasury bonds, prices of short-term governments fell about 1/8 point, intermediate maturities fell point to 1/2 point and long-term issues were down 5/8 point to 3/4 point, according to the investment firm of Salomon Bros. The movement of a point is equivalent to a change of $10 in the price of a bond with a $1,000 face value.
In corporate trading, industrials fell point and utilities fell 3/8 point in light trading. Among tax-exempt municipal bonds, general obligations and revenue bonds were down 3/8 point in moderate activity.
Yields on three-month Treasury bills rose 7 basis points to 7.11%. Six-month bills rose 6 basis points to 7.28%, and one-year bills were up 5 basis points at 7.44%. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point. The federal funds rate, the interest on overnight loans between banks, traded at 7.675%, up from 7.5% late Wednesday.