NEW YORK, FEB. 4 -- The stock market went nowhere slowly in a quiet, drifting session today.
The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials, which had fallen 28.35 points Wednesday, dropped 1.00 to 1923.57.
Advancing issues and declines were evenly balanced on the New York Stock Exchange.
Big Board volume totaled 186.49 million shares, down from 237.27 million in the previous session.
Analysts noted a continuing mood of caution in both the stock and bond markets as traders awaited the completion of the Treasury's sale of $27 billion in bonds and notes, which began Tuesday and concluded today.
With the recent decline of interest rates, there was considerable uncertainty about prospective demand for the long-term bonds being auctioned Thursday.
As it turned out, the Treasury sold $8.76 billion in 29 1/4-year bonds at an average yield of 8.51 percent, slightly above the levels to which yields had fallen of late in the secondary market.
The drop in rates has been widely seen as a likely harbinger of a slowdown in business activity. Analysts have devoted a lot of attention lately to trying to assess how severe any slowdown might become and how long it might last.
Brokers said the market was likely to take its next cue from the Labor Department's report Friday on the employment situation in January, which will provide the first statistical reading on what kind of a start the economy got on 1988.
General Motors led the active list, up 1/8 at 65 1/2 on turnover of more than 34 million shares. Analysts attributed much of the activity to strategies involving the company's impending dividend payment.
Federated Department Stores dropped 3/4 to 56 1/4 in active trading after jumping 5 3/4 points Wednesday. Campeau Corp. of Toronto offered to raise its bid for Federated from $47 to $61 a share if a merger agreement can be reached this week.
The NYSE's composite index of all its listed common stocks dipped 0.08 to 141.89.
Nationwide turnover in NYSE-listed issues, including trades in those stocks on regional exchanges and in the over-the-counter market, totaled 209.94 million shares.
Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials rose 0.17 to 288.23, and S&P's 500-stock composite index was unchanged at 252.21
The Nasdaq composite index for the over-the-counter market gained 0.95 to 344.66. At the American Stock Exchange, the market value index closed at 269.84, up 0.88.