NEW YORK, JULY 16 -- The stock market rang up another gain today, with the Dow Jones industrial average pushing close to the 2500 level after the release of positive earnings reports.
The Dow average of 30 blue chips rose 13.23 points to 2496.97, hitting a record closing high for the third consecutive session. Volume on the New York Stock Exchange reached 210.88 million shares, up from 202.29 million in the previous session.
Analysts noted that the second-quarter earnings of several major companies have lived up to or exceeded investor's hopes.
A case in point was American Telephone & Telegraph, which reported that its second-quarter profits increased to 55 cents a share from 37 cents in the year-ago period.
AT&T stock climbed 1 1/2 to 31 3/4, its highest level since the 1984 breakup of the old Bell System. The stock led the active list on volume of more than 10.87 million shares.
Phillip Morris, another of the Dow industrials, gained 2 1/8 to 95 3/8. The company posted second-quarter earnings of $2 a share, up from $1.58 in the like period last year.
Merck, yet another Dow stock, picked up 3 5/8 to 183 1/8 on second-quarter net of $1.72 against a comparable figure of $1.23.
Brokers said investors also were impressed by the way the market withstood the jolt of a disappointing government report Wednesday on the nation's trade deficit.
The dollar and bond prices fell on the news, but stocks recovered from a brief decline to finish mixed for the day. Bond prices recovered a bit today as interest rates turned downward.
Among today's big winners were Jim Walter Corp., which jumped 12 1/2 to 58 after receiving a $50-a-share takeover bid from the investment firm of Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., and Marine Midland Banks, climbed 18 to 77 3/4 after Hongkong & Shanghai Banking -- which owns 52 percent of Marine Midland -- proposed a $70-a-share offer for the stock in public hands.
On the downside, Zayre fell 1 3/8 to 29 1/2. The company projected a loss from operations for the quarter that ends Aug. 1.
Nationwide turnover in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 245.41 million shares.
Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials rose 3.06 to 366.44, and S&P's 500-stock composite index was up 2.43 at 312.70.
The Nasdaq composite index for the over-the-counter market gained 2.00 to 433.21.
At the American Stock Exchange, the market value index closed at its eight straight new high, up 2.20 at 353.19.