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
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.