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Tech, Drug Stocks Recover but Broad Market Behind
Associated Press
NEW YORK — Stock prices were higher in mid-afternoon Thursday on a recovery in technology and drug shares, but the broader market still lagged blue chips.

At 3 p.m. on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average was up 81.04 at 9,276.51 after opening stronger, then dipping to a loss of 4.27 before recovering again.

Broader stock indicators were moderately higher, with the Nasdaq composite up 15.19 at 2,264.10, and the Standard & Poor's 500 composite up 13.13 at 1,237.16.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners by a narrow 5-to-4 margin on the New York Stock Exchange, where volume came to 593.71 million shares, up from Wednesday's pace.

The Dow industrials were led higher by General Motors, up 3 at 85 9/16, Merck, up 2 1/16 at 78 1/4, and IBM, up 3 1/4 at 173 3/4.

"Investors are really going after these consumer cyclicals like retail and autos," said Ned Riley, chief investment officer at BankBoston, "but I don't think it's a sustainable leadership simply because we're in the eighth year of a recovery and one would think the pent-up demand for things like autos has long been exhausted."

Technology issues were mixed. Compaq was down 1/2 at 40 1/2, but paring its losses, in leading volume on the Big Board. Dell Computer, whose earnings release late Tuesday has been dragging the market down since last Friday, was up 1 1/8 at 82 11/16 in leading Nasdaq volume, but it was followed by Microsoft, down 4 1/8 at 145 7/8, following some unflattering coverage of its antitrust trial.

The Labor Department reported Thursday morning that its Producer Price Index rose 0.5 percent in January, the most since October 1996. But minus the volatile food and energy components, prices edged 0.1 percent lower, alleviating investors' fears that inflationary signals might prompt the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates.

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