NEW YORK, AUG. 7 -- Stocks struggled to a gain today, primed by the previous session's rally and encouraging economic news but restrained by preweekend selling that kept the Dow Jones average from closing above the 2600 barrier.

The closely watched index of 30 industrials, which reached its 48th record high of the year Thursday at 2594.23, surpassed 2600 a few times in the afternoon, but late profit-taking pushed it back. It closed down 2.23, at 2592.

Analysts said that despite another solid gain by technology issues, a stronger dollar, a decrease in the unemployment rate and growing demand for U.S. stocks from abroad, many investors cashed in their gains because of fears of weekend hostilities in the Persian Gulf.

Big Board volume totaled 212.66 million, up from 191.95 million the previous session.

Technology stocks gained again after leading the rally Thursday. IBM rose 1 3/8 to 164 3/8, Digital Equipment rose 1 3/4 to 170 7/8, Hewlett Packard rose 1 1/4 to 66 1/4 and Honeywell rose 1 1/4 to 87 5/8.

Several airline stocks did well, largely because of sharply higher passenger loads reported for July