NEW YORK — Stock prices struggled to stay even today in generally quiet trading, with most of the buying interest concentrated on blue chip issues.
The Dow Jones industrial index was up 6.63 to 1,848.97.
About the same amount of stocks that fell in value rose on the New York Stock Exchange, with 756 down, 745 up and 456 unchanged.
Big Board volume totaled 148.89 million shares, against 149.87 million in the previous session.
The NYSE's composite index rose 0.71 to 131.21.
At the American Stock Exchange, the market-value index stood at 241.82, up 0.14.
"We're seeing very selective buying," explained Charles Jensen, a technical analyst with MKI Securities Corp.
Jensen said many investors traded secondary stocks for "more conservative issues," as they neared the end of another tax year.
"The broad market is suffering from the year-end blues, and the profit taking or tax selling that goes on this time of year," he said.
The market had gotten off to a shaky start today, with the Dow index falling about 11 points shortly after the opening bell, in reaction to the dollar's initial weakness in foreign exchange.
As the dollar later firmed in Europe, stock prices rallied but lost most of their gains right before the close.
The dollar ended slightly lower in the United States as currency dealers wondered whether West Germany's central bank would cut a key interest rate.
Alfred Goldman, a technical analyst with A. G. Edwards & Sons Inc., said many stock traders stayed on the sidelines today.
"Nobody . . . wants to dive in and make a commitment and that's showing in the light volume as well as the drifting level of the market," he said.
Bond prices were slightly lower in quiet early trading today.
The bellwether 30-year Treasury issue was down 3/16 point, or nearly $2 for every $1,000 in face value, from late Tuesday's price. Its yield, which moves opposite from its price, rose to 9.14% from 9.12% late Tuesday.
Yields on three-month Treasury bills were up 4 basis points to 5.52%. A basis point is one-hundredth of a percentage point. Six-month bills were unchanged at 6.46% and one-year bills were up 1 basis point at 6.57%.
The federal funds rate, the interest on overnight loans between banks, traded at 7 1/8%, up from 7% late Tuesday.