A bid by International Business Machines to buy back some of its stock pushed IBM shares higher today, but the rest of the market made little progress in slow trading.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrial stocks finished with a narrow loss of .33 at 939.91.
Losers outnumbered gainers by about a 7-6 margin among New York Stock Exchange-listed issues.
Big Board volume hit a 1977 low for the third straight day, totalling 17.73 million shares against 18.04 million on Friday.
Nationwide turnover in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, came to 20.45 million shares.
The sluggish pace of the session contrasted sharply with a year ago at this time, when the NYSE was setting volume records. On Feb. 20, 1976, turnover reached a peak of 44.51 million shares.
The spotlight focused today on IBM's announcement of an offer to buy 4 million of its shares, or about 2.7 per cent of the total outstanding, for $280 apiece.
The $1 billion-plus offer, described as the largest of its kind on record, drove IBM stock up 5 5/8 to 275 3/4.
The general market, however, seemed to be held back by a continuing flow of economic statistics reflecting the adverse effects of bad weather in early 1977.
The Commerce Department reported today that the durable goods order fell 4 per cent in January for their sharpest decline in more than two years.
The strongest gainer in the Dow list was Eastman Kodak, up 2 3/8 at 74 1/4. The company introduced two new products to process microfilm.
Inmont gave up 3/4 to 21 3/4. The company rejected a $22.50-a-share acquisition by Esmark.
Addressograph-Multigraph, reporting a loss for its latest quarter, slumped 1 1/8 to 12 1/4.
Sony led the active list, up 2/8 at 9 1/4.