NEW YORK, FEB. 11 -- The stock market was little changed today, biding its time as traders awaited Friday's monthly report on the nation's trade balance.

Blue-chip issues bogged down after a strong advance Wednesday, while smaller stocks managed some modest gains.

The Dow Jones average of 30 industrials, up 47.58 on Wednesday, slipped back 0.50 to 1961.54.

Advancing issues outnumbered declines by about 8 to 7 on the New York Stock Exchange. Big Board volume totaled 200.7 million shares, up from 187.9 million in the previous session.

Stock prices have climbed lately on the strength of talk that the Federal Reserve is finding room to relax its credit policy now that the dollar has stabilized.

Interest rates rose in the credit markets today, responding to news of a stronger-than-expected 0.5 percent increase in retail sales last month.

Federated Department Stores gained 2 3/8 to 59 7/8. Campeau Corp. of Toronto said Wednesday it had lined up $660 million in financing for its offer to acquire Federated.

Jewelcor led the day's percentage gainers, jumping 3 3/8 to 15 5/8. A group including top Jewelcor executives and Bear, Stearns Co. proposed a bid to acquire the company for a price in the range of $15 to $16 a share.

Gillette gained 3 5/8 to 41. An investment group said late in the day that it had acquired a stake of about 6 percent in the company.

The NYSE's composite index of all its listed common stocks dropped 0.25 to 143.99.

Standard & Poor's index of 400 industrials dropped 0.26 to 293.85, and S&P's 500-stock composite index was down 0.71 at 255.95.