NEW YORK, NOV. 25 -- Stock prices moved mostly lower today in the quietest trading in two months, finishing near their lows as Wall Street continued pondering economic developments.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials closed down 16.58 points to 1946.95.
In the broader market, declines outpaced advances by about 8 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Big Board volume totaled 139.79 million shares, down sharply from 199.52 million traded in the previous session. It was the slowest day since 137.95 million shares changed hands on Sept. 25.
U.S. financial markets are closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday, and trading typically slows in the preholiday session.
The stock market was to reopen Friday, but traders said they expected more restrained activity.
Analysts said there was some early carryover buying from Tuesday's session, when stocks had rallied strongly on news of foreign interest rate cuts, but that enthusiasm was dampened by profit-taking and weakness in the dollar and U.S. bond markets today.
The interest rate cuts by the central banks of West Germany and several other European nations were seen as helping to support the dollar and as a vote of confidence in the plan to trim the U.S. budget deficit that was announced last week.
West Germany's central bank cut another interest rate today, but the dollar weakened in overseas trading, helping depress U.S. bond prices in a thin market. Long-term government bonds fell about $6 for every $1,000 in face value.
Buying interest dried up throughout the session but the broad decline remained mild because selling volume was light, and trading kept to a narrow range, analysts said.
"Most institutional investors did whatever selling they wanted to do into yesterday's rally," said Michael Metz, who is a technical analyst for the investment firm Oppenheimer & Co.
Stocks were little affected by the Commerce Department's report that durable goods orders were up 0.3 percent in October following a 2.4 percent gain in September, said Larry Wachtel of Prudential-Bache Securities Inc.
Texaco jumped 2 1/8 to 30 5/8. Trans World Airlines said it agreed to acquire 12 million Texaco shares from Australian investor Robert Holmes a Court. TWA rose 1/2 to 18 5/8. Pennzoil, which is locked in a multibillion-dollar legal battle with Texaco, jumped 3 7/8 to 73 5/8.
Among active blue chips, American Express rose 1/8 to 24 1/8, General Electric fell 3/8 to 45 1/4, IBM declined 7/8 to 117 5/8, Philip Morris dropped 4 1/4 to 89 1/2 and Exxon slipped 1 1/4 to 39 1/8.
Precious metals issues rallied on what analysts said was speculation that rising commodity price indicators signaled higher inflation. ASA Ltd. rose 1 3/8 to 50 1/2, Hecla Mining 7/8 to 14 1/2, Newmont Mining 3 to 39 1/2 and Echo Bay Mines 1 1/8 to 22 1/4.
Home Shopping Network rose 1/2 to 6 in active trading on the American Stock Exchange. The television retailer said that it had purchased a regional brokerage firm and a seat on the New York Stock Exchange.
Nationwide turnover in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 168.17 million shares.
The NYSE's composite index fell 1.03 to 136.90. Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials fell 2.50 to 279.86, and S&P's 500-stock composite index was down 2.29 to 244.10.
At the American Stock Exchange, the market value index increased 1.36 to 249.71.
The Nasdaq composite index for the over-the-counter market closed at 317.78, up 1.10.