NEW YORK — The stock market struggled ahead Friday, churning around record levels as interest rates declined again. Several stocks involved in takeover news and speculation dominated the day's activity.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials rose 5.06 to 1,885.26, just short of its closing high of 1,885.90 reached three weeks earlier. For the week, the average posted a net gain of 5.72 points.
Volume on the New York Stock Exchange came to 123.81 million shares, down from 134.07 million Thursday.
Analysts said a round of buying at the opening was inspired by rising prices and falling interest rates in the credit markets. Prices of long-term government bonds rose $5 to $10 for every $1,000 in face value.
Both the bond and stock markets have benefited lately from expectations that the Federal Reserve will relax its credit policy another notch to counter continuing sluggishness in economic growth.
Sanders Associates jumped 15 3/4 to 50 1/2 and led the active list on turnover of more than 6 million shares following word that Loral Corp. had offered to acquire the company. Sanders called Loral's bid of $44 a share in cash and stock inadequate.
Panhandle Eastern, second among the volume leaders, was up 4 at 48 1/2. The company, which has been the subject of takeover rumors, said it received and rejected a request from a party it did not identify to discuss a merger.
Safeway Stores, rumored in recent days to be a prospective takeover target, gained 1 7/8 to 53 1/2.
On the downside, Boston Edison, which had a request for a rate increase turned down by state regulators, fell 2 to 50 3/8 in active trading.
Among the blue chips, Allied-Signal rose 7/8 to 44 5/8; Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing 1 1/2 to 113 1/8, and American Telephone & Telegraph 1/8 to 25 1/8. But General Electric slipped 1/2 to 80 5/8, and General Motors was down at 77.
The New York Stock Exchange's composite index gained 0.51 to a new high of 143.18. A total of 2,603 blocks of 10,000 or more shares traded on the NYSE, compared to 2,476 on Thursday.
Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials rose .89 to 278.60, and S&P's 500-stock composite index was up 0.86 at 249.60.
The NASDAQ composite index for the over-the-counter market added 0.66 to a record 403.53. At the American Stock Exchange, the market value index closed at 283.13, down 0.72.
Bond prices rose by nearly $10 for every $1,000 in face value Friday as speculation grew that interest rates are headed lower.
The Merrill Lynch daily Treasury index, which measures price movements on all outstanding Treasury issues with maturities of a year or longer, rose 0.23 to 117.35. The Shearson Lehman daily Treasury bond index was up 2.52 to 1,229.15.