NEW YORK — Wall Street stocks edged lower Thursday in a subdued session overshadowed by worries that interest rates may not fall as fast or as much as investors had hoped.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials, which had fallen 28.35 points Wednesday, dropped 1.00 to 1,923.57.
Advancing issues and declines were evenly balanced on the New York Stock Exchange, with 752 up, 756 down and 474 unchanged.
Big Board volume totaled 186.49 million shares, against 237.27 million in the previous session.
Analysts noted a continuing mood of caution in both the stock and bond markets as traders awaited the completion of the Treasury's sale of $27 billion in bonds and notes, which began Tuesday and concluded Thursday.
"There wasn't that much activity," said analyst Ralph Acampora with Kidder Peabody & Co. "Investors are nervous and unless some dramatic news changes that, the market will continue to waffle."
Harbinger of Slowdown
With the recent decline of interest rates, there was considerable uncertainty about prospective demand for the long-term bonds being auctioned Thursday.
As it turned out, the Treasury sold $8.76 billion in 29-year bonds at an average yield of 8.51%, slightly above the levels to which yields had fallen of late in the secondary market.
The drop in rates has been widely seen as a likely harbinger of a slowdown in business activity. Wall Streeters have devoted a lot of attention lately to trying to assess how severe any slowdown might become and how long it might last.
General Motors led the active list, up 1/8 at 65 1/2 on turnover of more than 34 million shares. Analysts attributed much of the activity to strategies involving the company's impending dividend payment.
Federated Department Stores dropped 3/4 to 56 in active trading after jumping 5 3/4 points Wednesday. Campeau Corp. of Toronto offered to raise its bid for Federated from $47 to $61 a share if a merger agreement can be reached this week.
The Limited fell 1 3/8 to 17. The company reported a 5% sales decline for January.
S&P 400 Edged Higher
Nationwide turnover in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 209.94 million shares.
The NYSE's composite index of all its listed common stocks dipped 0.08 to 141.89.
Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials rose 0.17 to 288.23, and S&P's 500-stock composite index was unchanged at 252.21
The NASDAQ composite index for the over-the-counter market gained 0.95 to 344.66. At the American Stock Exchange, the market-value index closed at 269.84, up 0.88.
The Wilshire index of 5,000 equities closed at 2,485.722, down 0.188 from Wednesday.
In foreign trading, share prices closed mixed Thursday on the London Stock Exchange after a day of dull trading.
The Financial Times 100-share index finished little changed, just 0.6 point higher, at 1,766.9.
In Tokyo, stock prices closed higher Thursday on light volume.
The Nikkei 225-share index closed up 113.73 points, or 0.48%, at 23,709.10, after reaching a high of 23,775.90. The index lost 76.84 points Wednesday.