Stock prices were mixed today, drifting through a quiet session that closed out the second worst week of point losses ever for the Dow Jones industrial average.
The news of the latest discount-rate reduction by the Federal Reserve drew only a muted response from investors, except in the case of some utility and financial issues that gained ground.
The Dow Jones average of 30 blue chips dropped 10.40 points to 1,821.43, bringing its loss for the week to 79.44 points. The only larger weekly decline posted by the average was an 82.50-point drop between March 31 and April 4.
"The discount and prime rate cuts were anticipated by everyone and his shoeshine boy," said Alfred Goldman of A. G. Edwards & Sons in St. Louis. "The market's response was ho-hum."
Don Kimsey, technical analyst at Dean Witter Reynolds, said the market was trying to stabilize after Monday's extremely sharp sell-off.
"People are still confused," said Kimsey. "They're trying to figure out whether they should be selling or whether this is one of the great buying opportunities of all time."
Today's volume on the New York Stock Exchange came to 124.47 million shares, down from 146.16 million in the previous session.
Late Thursday, the Fed announced a cut in its discount rate from 6.5 percent to 6 percent. Today, in response, most large banks across the country lowered their prime lending rates from 8.5 percent to 8 percent.
Wall Street had been hoping for some time that the Fed would take new measures to relax its credit policy in an effort to stimulate economic growth, which has been sluggish of late. But analysts said the move had been so widely anticipated on Wall Street that it stirred up little fresh enthusiasm once it became official.
They said many investors weren't convinced that a cut to 6 percent by itself would assure an improvement in the pace of business activity and corporate profits.
Centerior Energy led the active list, up 3/8 at 25 1/4 in trading that included numerous large blocks. Brokers said the stock was the subject of trading strategies by institutional investors focused on the utility holding company's quarterly dividend payment.
Among other utility issues, Pacific Gas & Electric rose 1/2 to 23 7/8; Cincinnati Gas & Electric 1 1/8 to 26 7/8; Utah Power & Light 7/8 to 31 7/8, and Philadelphia Electric 7/8 to 21 5/8.
Savings and loan stocks, which tend to be very sensitive to interest rate changes, showed some gains. Gibraltar Financial added 1/2 to 12 3/8, and Great Western Financial was up 3/4 at 46 3/8.
Pittston gained 1 to 12. The company said directors authorized a repurchase program of as much as 3.5 million shares.
Hasbro, traded on the American Stock Exchange, rose 3/4 to 53 7/8. The company declared a 2-for-1 stock split and an increase in its quarterly dividend.
In the overall tally on the Big Board, advancing issues outnumbered declines by about 6 to 5. The exchange's composite common stock index slipped 0.17 point to 139.51.
Nationwide turnover in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 148.09 million shares.
Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials fell 1.51 points to 268.78, and S&P's 500-stock composite index was down 0.79 point at 242.22.
The Nasdaq composite index for the over-the-counter market lost 0.48 point to 391.55. At the Amex, the market value index closed at 273.65, up 0.52 point.