NEW YORK — Stock prices edged upward Tuesday in an erratic session marked by the slowest trading in more than two weeks.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials rose 6.74 to 2,223.28, recovering some of Monday's 18.70-point loss.
Volume on the New York Stock Exchange totaled 151.31 million shares, down from Monday's 170.45 million and the smallest total since a 143.30-million-share day on Feb. 9.
Energy issues were the market's sore spot, responding to signs that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries was having trouble making its agreement to bolster oil prices stick.
Exxon fell 1 5/8 to 78 3/8, Chevron dropped 3/4 to 47 1/8, Mobil was down 1 to 41 5/8, Amoco declined 1 to 71 3/8, Atlantic Richfield fell 7/8 to 66 5/8 and Occidental Petroleum dipped 3/8 to 31.
Analysts also said there was some continuing uneasiness over the international debt situation, following the recent news that Brazil had suspended interest payments on its commercial foreign loans.
Bank Stocks Mixed
Bank stocks, which came under heavy selling pressure Monday, were mixed in Tuesday's trading.
Citicorp, down 3 3/4 Monday, lost an additional 1/2 to 54. But Chase Manhattan rose 1/2 to 38 7/8 and Chemical New York was up 3/8 at 46 7/8.
In the day's economic news, Paul A. Volcker, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, said inflation is likely to increase somewhat this year because of the dollar's decline in foreign exchange.
But Volcker said a primary goal for the Fed in its monetary policy is to keep that increase from becoming a "broad-based cumulative upward movement."
In the pharmaceutical sector, Merck climbed 4 1/8 to 152 3/8 and Squibb picked up 4 to 151 1/2, both trading at new highs. Analysts said the stocks benefited from interest in cholesterol-reducing drugs made by Merck and being developed by Squibb.
Anchor Hocking jumped 4 1/8 to 31. The firm agreed to a $32-a-share takeover by Newell Co.
American Motors led the NYSE active list, up at 3 3/4 on turnover of more than 2.7 million shares. On Monday, the company announced its first quarterly profit in two years.
Advancing issues outnumbered declines by about eight to seven in the overall tally on the NYSE, with 821 up, 712 down and 431 unchanged.
Fewer Block Trades
Large blocks of 10,000 or more shares traded on the NYSE totaled 2,849, compared to 2,931 Monday.
Nationwide turnover in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 181.15 million shares.
In the bond market, prices of long-term government bonds were higher in light to moderate trading Tuesday, while shorter-dated maturities were mostly unchanged.
Dealers said long-term issues were boosted by falling oil prices and a decline in the key federal funds rate, the interest on overnight loans between banks. Short-term bonds were hurt by investors selling them to take profits, they reported.
The Treasury's closely watched 30-year bond gained nearly 1/2 point, or $5 per $1,000 face value. That cut its yield to 7.49% from 7.53% on Monday. Corporate and municipal bonds were stable to higher.