NEW YORK — Blue-chip issues led the stock market higher Thursday in buying that lifted the Dow Jones industrial average to its first close above the 1,800 level.
Dow Jones's average of 30 blue chips climbed 16.29 to 1,804.24, surpassing the record closing high of 1,792.74, reached last Friday.
Volume on the New York Stock Exchange came to 147.95 million shares, compared to 149.99 million on Wednesday.
The Dow Jones industrials broke 1,800 just three weeks after it topped 1,700 and six weeks after it reached 1,600. Since the start of the year, the average has risen 257.57 points, or 16.6%.
The Dow made short-lived runs past 1,800 on Tuesday and Wednesday, falling back both times. But in each case, the retreat didn't go very far before it attracted new buyers.
Analysts said that led many traders to conclude that the long advance in stock prices had further to go.
Wide Swings Feared
There have been widespread concerns on Wall Street that the market might experience some wide swings Thursday and today, with several options and futures contracts on stock indexes approaching expiration.
But fears that traders engaged in complex maneuvers involving those contracts might suddenly start dumping stocks appeared to have abated.
In fact, brokers said it was the buying of blue-chip stocks by these "program traders" that helped propel the Dow higher in Thursday's trading.
Other, broader measures of stock price trends finished higher, but their gains were less emphatic, and several of them remained a bit below last week's peaks.
Auto stocks rose sharply, benefiting from recent price increases by U.S. subsidiaries of Japanese car makers. Ford Motor rose 4 to 80 5/8, General Motors rose 1 3/8 to 86 and Chrysler rose 2 to 45 3/8.
Eli Lilly gained 2 5/8 to 69 3/4 in active trading. The stock jumped 7 7/8 points Wednesday on reports that a new Lilly anti-depressant drug might have potential uses in weight reduction.
Elsewhere among the blue chips, Merck climbed 4 3/4 to 166, Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing rose 2 3/8 to 106 3/8 and International Paper rose 1/2 to 61 1/8.
Computer Stocks Weak
Computer issues, by contrast, were weak for the second straight day following word from Burroughs that it expected significantly lower first-quarter earnings.
Burroughs, down 3 7/8 on Wednesday, lost another 3/4 to 63 5/8. Honeywell fell 1 to 75, Digital Equipment fell 3 to 157 7/8 and IBM dropped 1 1/2 to 150 1/8.
In the daily tally on the Big Board, advancing issues outnumbered declines by about five to four.
Large blocks of 10,000 or more shares traded on the NYSE totaled 2,811, compared to 2,753 on Wednesday.
Among other indicators, the Big Board's composite index rose 0.56 to 136.13; the Wilshire index of 5,000 equities closed at 2,427.750, up 8.766; Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials rose 1.22 to 261.61; S&P's 500-stock composite index was up 0.94 at 236.54; NASDAQ's composite index for the over-the-counter market gained 1.02 to 372.71, and the American Stock Exchange's market-value index closed at 267.32, up 1.12.
In the bond market, government and corporate bond prices gained moderately, and interest rates made minor movements, despite the report of an unexpectedly large $5.7-billion jump in the nation's basic money supply.
By the end of trading in the municipal market, revenue bonds were up 1 points in moderate volume and general obligations were up 3/4 point in fairly quiet activity, according to the investment firm of Salomon Bros.
In the secondary market for Treasury bonds, short-term securities finished up by 1/32 point and intermediate governments rose by 1/32 point to 3/8 point.
The 20-year bond gained 3/8 point and the 30-year issue spurted by 17/32 point, according to Salomon Bros.
In corporate trading, utilities gained 3/8 point in light volume while industrials edged up in quiet activity.
The yield on the benchmark 30-year Treasury bond finished at 7.98%, slightly under late Wednesday's 8% level.
Yields on three-month Treasury bills fell two basis points to 6.44%. Six-month bills were down three basis points to 6.52%, while one-year bills fell two basis points to 6.57%.
The federal funds rate--the interest on overnight loans between banks--traded at 7.313%, compared to 7.25% late in the previous session.