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Dow Dips 4.33; Nasdaq Hits 9th Record High

May 01, 1996|From Times Wire Services

The Nasdaq market extended its unbroken string of record highs to a ninth session Tuesday, buoyed by gains in computer software shares, while blue-chip stocks were dragged lower by a weak bond market.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended down 4.33 points at 5,569.08.

The Nasdaq composite index rose 2.32 points to a new high of 1,190.52, beating Monday's record of 1,188.20.

In the broader market, declining issues led advances 1,187 to 1,146 on moderate volume of 393 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange.

"Both the bulls and bears have taken their horns in and we're waiting for Friday's employment report. But we're still in a very equity friendly environment," said Scott Bleier, chief investment strategist at Prime Charter Ltd.

The government reports Friday on the April jobless rate, and the data will be closely watched by Wall Street for signs on the direction of the economy and interest rates.

Stronger-than-expected jobs reports for February and March worried investors and fanned fears of a pickup in inflation.

The latest batch of data shows further signs of a strengthening economy.

The regional Chicagoland Business Barometer, which foreshadows today's National Assn. of Purchasing Management report for April, rose to a seasonally adjusted 52.0% from 47.3% in March, which was more than analysts' forecast of 49.8.

Wall Street still faces a battery of economic data, including March leading indicators, today followed by first-quarter GDP and March factory orders on Thursday.

"It's as close to economic nirvana you can get," said Tom Carpenter, chief economist at ASB Capital Management Inc.

He said the data released thus far has not changed his view that the economy "is doing fine and probably will grow at 2% this year, at non-inflationary growth rates."

The yield of the Treasury's main 30-year bond rose to 6.90% from 6.84% late Monday.

Meanwhile, the shares of oil companies were hit by profit taking after President Clinton's decision to sell crude oil from the nation's strategic reserve put the brakes on the 3-month-old surge in gasoline prices.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, gasoline for delivery in May sank 4.62 cents to close at 72.39 cents a gallon. June crude oil ended down $1.23 at $21.20 a barrel.

Clinton on Monday ordered the sale of 12 million barrels of crude oil from the strategic petroleum reserve in an effort to bring down gasoline prices ahead of the summer driving season, typically the top consuming period.

Mobil lost 2 3/8 to 115, Exxon fell 7/8 to 7/8 to 85, Texaco shed 1 3/8 to 85 1/2 and Chevron fell 1/2 to 58.

Among market highlights:

* PepsiCo rose 2 1/8 to 63 1/2 on better-than-expected quarterly results, while Tech-Sym lost 4 1/4 to 34 5/8 on disappointing earnings.

* UUNET soared 10 1/2 to 58 3/4 after agreeing to merge with MFS Communications in a stock deal valued at $2 billion. MFS rose 1/16 to 34 11/16.

News of the deal boosted the shares of other Internet providers, including PSINet, up 2 3/8 to 14 1/8, NETCOM, up 3 3/8 to 35 7/8, and BBN Corp., up 5/8 to 28 1/4.

* Guidant rose 3 to 56 1/8 after winning Food and Drug Administration approval six months sooner than expected for its implantable devices which treat life-threatening rapid heartbeats.

* Biogen rose 2 5/8 to 65 7/8 after a federal judge declined Berlex Laboratories' request to temporarily block possible FDA approval of Biogen's AVONEX, a multiple sclerosis drug. Berlex claims AVONEX violates its exclusive marketing status granted by the FDA for its MS drug Betaseron.

* Two initial public offerings posted big gains. Sykes Enterprises, an information technology company, soared 17 1/2 to 35 1/2. Software firm Planning Sciences International surged 8 1/8 to 24 1/8 in its first day of U.S. trading.

The Standard & Poor's composite index of 500 stocks rose 0.01 to 654.17. The American Stock Exchange index was off 1.85 to 590.90.

The NYSE Composite index of all listed common stocks was unchanged at 351.24. The average share was unchanged.

The Wilshire Associates Equity Index-the market value of NYSE, American and Nasdaq issues-was 6,514.787, up 0.428 or 0.01%.

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