NEW YORK — Stock prices closed mixed Thursday in a generally trendless session as some blue-chip issues posted losses and the broader market gained ground.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials was off 1.64 to 2,267.34, following an 11.11 loss Wednesday.
However, in the overall tally of New York Stock Exchange-listed issues, gainers outnumbered losers by about four to three, with 882 up, 654 down and 427 unchanged.
Volume on the Big Board totaled 174.47 million shares, down from 186.88 million the previous session. It opened slightly lower and remained fairly mixed throughout most of the trading day.
Some traders speculated that the market may be losing steam and poised for a selloff after its sharp rise since the start of the year.
"I think that the excesses built up . . . since Jan. 2 have just gotten to a level where we are going to need a correction," said Alfred E. Goldman, director of technical market analysis for A. G. Edwards & Sons.
But other experts were not so sure. Many maintained that the market is being buoyed by strong interest among foreign investors in U.S. equities. Michael Metz, a strategist for Oppenheimer & Co., said: "It just looks like the market is digesting the gains of the recent past. It's entitled to slow down after this kind of run."
In addition, he said, many investors are worried about possible periods of volatility with a "triple witching hour" approaching on March 20. That refers to the last trading in a set of options and futures on stock indexes, which are used by professional traders in computer-program strategies.
Coca-Cola in Debut
In individual issues Thursday, K mart was up 1 to 61 in active trading. The company reported significantly higher fourth-quarter earnings. International Business Machines was up 2 1/2 to 144; Eastman Kodak slipped 1 to 74 3/8; Compaq Computer lost 2 7/8 to 30 1/8, and UAL rose 1 7/8 to 60 3/4 on rumors that New York real estate magnate Donald Trump may be accumulating a stake in the firm.
Also, Coca-Cola was down 5/8 to 48 1/8 and Inco was up 7/8 to 15 5/8. Dow Jones & Co. rejiggered the stocks in its widely followed industrial average, dropping Owens-Illinois and Inco in favor of Coca-Cola and Boeing. The change was effective Thursday.