NEW YORK, JULY 23 -- Prices closed narrowly mixed on Wall Street today in a session that mirrored the indecisive activity of the day before.

The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials closed up 1.76 at 2471.94.

Declining issues outpaced advancers by a margin of 3 to 1 on the New York Stock Exchange.

Big Board volume totaled 163.67 million shares, down from 174.65 million in the previous session.

Trading mimicked Wednesday's session as the market opened stronger and then slipped back with the Dow Jones industrial average trading in a narrow range the rest of the day.

Some analysts said the market continued to correct or consolidate after the Dow Jones average reached the 2500 level last week.

" We're looking at a market that is trying to digest and correct the big move it had for the first six or seven months of the year," said Ralph Acampora, an analyst with Kidder, Peabody & Co.

Michael Metz, an analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., said the same concerns that have been weighing on the market in recent sessions were present Wednesday.

Many investors continued to play it safe after U.S. Navy vessels began escorting Kuwaiti oil tankers past the threat of an Iranian attack in the Persian Gulf.

They also were worried about the Treasury's quarterly refunding auction early next month, Metz said. The last auction, in May, was perceived as a disappointment by many analysts and traders because of a lack of aggressive bidding by both foreign and domestic buyers.

Despite the market's uncertain direction in the last few sessions, analysts warned that it still has the potential for volatility.

" You can almost say with the market at these levels, you could go 100 points in either direction quickly," said Robert Ritter, an analyst at L.F. Rothschild & Co.

Leading the NYSE most active list was Southern Co., which was unchanged at 24 1/2.

Among the big gainers were firms issuing earnings reports today. General Motors picked up 1 1/2 to close at 85 1/2 after announcing its second quarter earnings were down slightly and Walt Disney was up 1 1/4 to 70 7/8 after reporting its profits were up 60 percent in the third quarter.

Digital Equipment gained also, up 2 to 160 7/8, regaining some of the ground it lost Wednesday. Digital had dropped 6 1/2 because of investor disappointment in its earnings report.

Ford Motor slipped 2 5/8 to 103 7/8 after announcing it earned a record $1.5 billion in the second quarter. Investors apparently had higher expectations for the No. 2 auto maker's results.

Other losers included Kodak, which fell 1 1/8 to 87 5/8, IBM, which dropped 1 1/4 to 160 1/8, and Teledyne, which slipped 3 7/8 to 356 1/4.

Nationwide turnover in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 191.13 million shares.

Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials fell 0.92 to 360.02, and S&P's 500-stock composite index was down 0.66 to 307.81.

At the American Stock Exchange, the market value index was down 1.55 at 346.62. The Nasdaq composite index for the over-the-counter market closed at 427.63, down 1.67.