Stock prices gained ground in subdued trading today, steadying after last week's sudden sell-off.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials, which fell 35.67 points last week, rose 7.00 points today to 1,520.53. Volume on the New York Stock Exchange slowed to 108.68 million shares from 122.78 million on Friday.
Analysts said many traders were waiting cautiously to see how the market will react if, as is widely expected, it is confronted with more news of a strengthening economy this week.
Last week's slide was touched off by word that the unemployment rate had fallen to its lowest level in more than five years. Although that news was upbeat for business conditions generally, it also was taken as a distinctly negative portent for interest rates.
Prices of long-term government bonds, which move in the opposite direction from interest rates, dropped about $5 today for every $1,000 in face value.
Among the items on the agenda for the markets this week are the government's monthly reports on retail sales and industrial production, which are scheduled for release on Thursday. It would come as no surprise on Wall Street if either or both of those figures provides further signs of increasing economic growth.
Comdisco fell 1 1/2 to 18 7/8. Late last week, the company said it was contesting an Internal Revenue Service assessment of $200 million in back taxes and interest.
Texaco, the volume leader on a turnover of more than 1.3 million shares, slipped 1/2 to 31, and Pennzoil was down 2 at 69 1/4. A judge ruled that Texaco won't be required to post a $12 billion bond to continue its legal fight with Pennzoil arising from its acquisition of Getty Oil.
In the oil drilling and service sector, Schlumberger fell 1 1/2 to 35 1/4 and Halliburton was off 1 3/8 to 25 5/8. Analysts said investors apparently fear more disappointing earnings in the industry, which has suffered along with the depressed energy economy. Traders also said Salomon Brothers' oil services analyst told his firm's clients that Schlumberger's fourth-quarter earnings might be disappointing.