NEW YORK — The stock market wavered uncertainly today, on the 58th anniversary of the crash of 1929 that led to the Great Depression, after rebounding from an early sell-off. The Dow Jones industrial average closed up a fraction of a point.
The Dow average was down as many as 63 points this morning as traders responded to overseas losses. But then stocks rallied, rising to a brief high of 35 points.
Heavy trading gave financial workers little rest from the turmoil that has enveloped Wall Street since the historic 508-point collapse Oct. 19 that wiped out more than half a trillion dollars in market value.
Two stocks declined for every one that advanced, but the stock market averted the collapse that many had feared after a drop in the dollar and sharp declines in Asian and European stock markets.
"It's a comfortable market. It certainly could have been a disaster today," said Jack Baker, head of block trading for Shearson Lehman Brothers Inc.
The Dow industrials ended the day up 0.33 points at 1,846.82. More than 279 million shares were traded in another abbreviated session. Markets have been closing two hours early to allow people to catch up on paper work.
The dollar, battered by fears that the world's central banks would not prop it up, fell to a seven-year low against the West German mark and a five-year low against the British pound.
Prices fell on the Tokyo Stock Exchange today after a modest morning rally faded in the afternoon. A key market indicator closed down 1.1%.
Late London Rally
In London, stock prices finished lower but well above the session's worst levels after a late rally sparked by Wall Street's improvement. The Financial Times-Stock Exchange 100-share index closed down 44.9 points.
Prices slid slightly on the Hong Kong exchange today. The market's prime gauge of blue chips, the Hang Seng index, closed down 25.56 points.
On Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average of 30 blue-chip stocks had risen 52.56 points, adding $37 billion to the paper value of U.S. stocks.
"There's very little meaning to these rallies," said Hildegarde Zagorski, an analyst with Prudential-Bache Securities Inc. "The market is bouncing up and down like a rubber ball, testing bottoms."