Blue chip stocks closed down for a fifth straight session in slow activity Monday, with many investors and traders taking time off to watch a Gulf War parade in lower Manhattan.
The pace of activity--the slowest in about two weeks--was further dampened as participants waited for more data about the economy and inflation.
The Dow Jones industrial average eased 1.34 to 2,975.40. The Dow index of 30 leading companies has dropped every day since last Tuesday. It hit a record high close of 3,035.33 June 3.
In the broader market, 654 issues were up, 920 were down, and 479 issues were unchanged.
New York Stock Exchange volume came to 127.42 million shares, down from 168.05 million Friday and the lightest total since a 109.51 million-share day three weeks back, on May 20.
"The main event in New York today seemed to be the Desert Storm parade, and so all the market could do was mark time," said Alan Ackerman, executive vice president at Reich & Co.
Although the Dow appears to have stabilized for now after its fall of about 59 points last week, Newton Zinder, senior vice president at Lehman Bros., said: "I don't think there's much on the upside.
"The key now is the end of the week, when we get the producer price index and the consumer price index on Thursday and Friday, respectively," Zinder added. Both will offer fresh evidence about inflation pressures in the economy.
Inflation concerns were fueled after the May employment report, released Friday, showed a rise in payroll jobs outside the farm sector for the first time since the recession started last July.
Among the market highlights:
* Smith Barney cut its earnings estimate and rating for Hilton Hotels because of continued weakness in Hilton's hotel business. The stock lost 2 3/4 to 43 5/8.
* Pfizer Inc.'s "buy" rating was reiterated by Cowen & Co. after a Food and Drug Administration committee recommended that the agency approve the company's Norvasc drug for use against hypertension and angina. The stock rose 1 to 57.
* Texas Instruments shares fell 1 7/8 to 35 7/8. Traders said a Kidder Peabody analyst lowered his earnings estimates for the company.
* Edison Bros. Stores climbed 2 to 40 1/4. An analyst at A. G. Edwards raised his 1991 earnings estimate for the shoe retailer.
* Live Entertainment rose after the company proposed that Carolco Pictures buy the remaining shares of Live it does not own. Live's shares were up 1 7/8 to 12, and Carolco rose 1/4 to 7 3/4.
Stocks closed sharply lower in Tokyo, with investors spooked by New York's weakness Friday. The key 225-share Nikkei average fell 436.73 to 24,598.38.
German shares recovered from early lows, with the 30-share DAX average ending 4.72 lower at 1,704.92.
In London, the Financial Times average closed up 5.6 at 2,511.9.
The bond market ended little changed in light trading amid a lack of economic news and the Gulf War parade through Wall Street that also captivated bond traders' attention.
The Treasury's bellwether 30-year bond slipped 1/16 point, or 63 cents per $1,000 in face amount. Its yield was unchanged from late Friday at 8.47%.
The yield on the long-term bond has risen from 8.21% on April 30.
The federal funds rate, the interest on overnight loans between banks, was quoted at 5.688%, up from 5.675% late Friday.
The dollar slipped against major foreign currencies but rose against the Japanese yen as traders expressed uncertainty over the future of Japan's economy.
At least 10 European central banks and the Bank of Japan sold dollars in European trading in an attempt to control the dollar's rise, traders said.
The dollar continues to show strength as signs emerge that the U.S. recession has bottomed and the economy is resuming growth, currency analysts said.
After the central bank intervention, traders turned their attention to the Japanese yen. There is widespread speculation that weakness in Japan's real estate market will adversely affect its financial institutions, said Robert Ryan, senior trader for Bank of New York.
Ryan said the level of selling of the yen "surprised quite a few people."
Selling accelerated further after the dollar surpassed 141.50 yen level, leading the dollar to go as high as 142.00 yen. The dollar closed at 141.55 yen in New York trading, up from 140.35 yen on Friday.
But the dollar failed to maintain its rise against the German mark, falling to 1.7679 marks from Friday's 1.7720 marks.
Other late rates for the dollar in New York, compared to late Friday's prices, included: 1.5105 Swiss francs, down from 1.5190; 5.9875 French francs, down from 5.9985; 1,312.00 Italian lire, down from 1,312.75, and 1.14705 Canadian dollars, down from 1.14775.
Gold futures prices hit a four-month high on New York's Commodity Exchange as a rally stretched into its fourth day.
On other commodity markets, oil futures were lower; grains and soybeans fell; cattle futures were mixed, and pork futures were lower.
Gold settled $7.10 to $8.10 higher in New York, with the contract for delivery in June at $373.70 an ounce, the highest daily settlement of a near-term contract since Jan. 29.
Market Roundup, D8